Skip to content

Jimmie Johnson still winless in 2014, but isn’t fretting yet

Mar 30, 2014, 6:55 PM EDT

Jimmie Johnson AP

Kurt Busch said after winning Sunday’s STP 500 at Martinsville Speedway that “if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em,” referring to Jimmie Johnson and Jeff Gordon, who came into the race with eight wins apiece on the .526-mile track.

With both drivers having Hendrick Motorsports power under the hood, Busch beat Johnson to prevent the six-time Sprint Cup champion from earning his ninth career win at NASCAR’s oldest Cup racetrack.

Had Johnson won, he would have overtaken HMS teammate Jeff Gordon for most wins at Martinsville by an active driver (NASCAR Hall of Famer Richard Petty holds the all-time record with 15 wins there).

Johnson yielded the lead to Busch on lap 473, but regained it 10 laps later. With just 17 laps remaining, Johnson felt his tires going away and couldn’t hold off Busch, eventually relinquishing the lead for good with 11 laps remaining.

“Man that is all I had, that is all I could do,” Johnson said. “I got back by him and then he got back to me and I was really, really loose in the closing stages of the race.

“Once he got back to me and put the pressure to me, I couldn’t keep the back under me. I put all the front brake in it that I could and was just hoping I could hold him off, but just wasn’t able to.

Having led 296 of the race’s 500 laps, Johnson appeared headed towards yet another dominating win at Martinsville, but will have to wait again until at least this year’s fall Chase race there to get that elusive ninth win.

“This track is in the Chase, so we’ll come back a lot smarter and try to prevent running second again,” Johnson said. “You just learn from the situation.

“I’m not saying there was a mistake today, but you learn from this weekend and carry it forward. This is a brand new car and a lot of stuff to figure out, so I know in the coming months the car’s setups will be a lot different, and we’ll just keep evolving and try to prevent running second.”

It marked the first time Johnson has ever lost at Martinsville after leading more than 271 laps in the scheduled 500-lap event. Johnson ultimately led 296 laps, only to come up short and finish second.

“(I had) just a very strong race car,” Johnson said. “We unloaded off the truck fast and qualified well and had an awesome car here in the race today.

“Of course, we’re disappointed not to get to victory lane, but there wasn’t anything else I could do. Man, I got back by (Busch) and I thought that we had control of the race then.

“I felt like since I hadn’t seen him through really any part of the day that he might have me on short-run speed but he would fall off. He stayed in my mirror and found a way back by me and then got a car length or so on me and did an awesome job. … I came up a little short, but it wasn’t for a lack of effort.”

Johnson is still winless after the first six races, but he doesn’t seem overly concerned, given that he now has four top-six finishes.

“I’ve got to figure something out,” Johnson said. “Hopefully I’ll win a race soon or a championship. To be truthful, last year I felt like some (potential wins) got away that I definitely had control of and was disappointed in myself on some of that.

“Some of the stuff circumstances got me, but we left a lot of wins on the table last year for sure. Today, I couldn’t have done any more. I just got beat. You’re going to have those, too, and you’ve got to recognize when you get beat and you’ve got to recognize when you make mistakes, and today we just got beat.”

While he came so close, Johnson isn’t really fretting. A win Sunday would have been great, but there’s no shame in finishing second.

“We’re definitely in a good place, that’s for sure,” Johnson said. “I think today was very representative of that.”

In addition to what he hoped would have been his ninth career Cup win at Martinsville, Johnson was also seeking to give team owner Rick Hendrick his 220th career Sprint Cup win and 22nd Cup triumph at Martinsville.

The 30th anniversary of Hendrick Motorsports’ first Sprint Cup win is April 29, when Geoff Bodine gave Hendrick his first career win as an owner in just the team’s eighth race together.

“We had a very fast race car,” Johnson said. “I wish we could have gotten this for Rick’s 30th anniversary.”

Follow me @JerryBonkowski

Latest Posts
  1. Seeing red: Jimmie Johnson’s No. 48 Chevy gets a new look for Texas (VIDEO)

    Oct 31, 2014, 4:00 PM EDT

    AAA Texas 500 - Practice Getty Images

    The six-time Sprint Cup champion is driving the No. 48 Lowe’s “Red Vest” Chevrolet this weekend.

  2. Raikkonen: Return to Ferrari “100% the right decision”

    Oct 31, 2014, 3:45 PM EDT

    F1 Grand Prix of USA - Previews Getty Images

    Finnish driver has endured a difficult return to Maranello in 2014 after five years away.

  3. Late lap puts Brian Vickers atop first Sprint Cup practice at Texas

    Oct 31, 2014, 3:00 PM EDT

    AAA Texas 500 - Practice Getty Images

    Chase competitors Kevin Harvick and points leader Jeff Gordon crack the Top 5 speeds.

  4. WATCH LIVE: FP2 for the United States Grand Prix

    Oct 31, 2014, 2:45 PM EDT

    F1 Grand Prix of USA - Practice Getty Images

    Can Lewis Hamilton double up in the second practice session in Austin? Join us from 3p ET to find out.

  5. Matt Kenseth still remorseful over Martinsville wreck with Kevin Harvick

    Oct 31, 2014, 2:15 PM EDT

    Goody's Headache Relief Shot 500 - Qualifying Getty Images

    Kenseth says the only way he’d feel a little better about it is if Harvick manages to make the Championship Race.

  6. Sebastian Vettel to start United States GP from pit lane

    Oct 31, 2014, 2:03 PM EDT

    F1 Grand Prix of USA - Practice Getty Images

    FIA confirms that the German driver has taken a sixth complete power unit, and will have to start the race from the pit lane at COTA.

  7. Chris Buescher tops first Nationwide practice at Texas

    Oct 31, 2014, 1:15 PM EDT

    Kentucky Speedway - Day 1 Getty Images

    Ford drivers take the top three spots in opening Nationwide practice.

  8. Bottas confident improved 2015 campaign possible for Williams

    Oct 31, 2014, 1:00 PM EDT

    AUTO-PRIX-RUS Getty Images

    Despite exceeding everyone’s expectations in 2014, Valtteri Bottas feels that the team can continue its upward trend next season.

  9. Hamilton quickest in first practice for United States GP

    Oct 31, 2014, 12:31 PM EDT

    HamiltonFP1COTA Getty Images

    Two-time US GP winner makes the best possible start to his race weekend by topping FP1 in Austin.

  10. Joey Logano goes for Texas sweep, berth in Sprint Cup title race this weekend

    Oct 31, 2014, 12:14 PM EDT

    Goody's Headache Relief Shot 500 - Practice Getty Images

    Logano’s currently in position to advance to the final battle at Homestead, but he says he’ll stay aggressive this weekend at Texas.

  11. VIDEO: Behind the scenes at Red Bull, 24 hours before a GP weekend

    Oct 31, 2014, 12:00 PM EDT

    F1 Grand Prix of USA - Previews Getty Images

    Red Bull takes you behind-the-scenes in the lead-up to this weekend’s United States Grand Prix in Austin, Texas.

  12. Austin FP1 features new helmets, liveries and bits and pieces

    Oct 31, 2014, 11:55 AM EDT

    COTAstars AP

    Various updates coming to portions of the grid this weekend, starting in FP1.

  13. Mario Andretti gets the USGP weekend started with COTA Twitter takeover

    Oct 31, 2014, 11:21 AM EDT

    Italy F1 GP Auto Racing AP

    Mario Andretti takes time out of a busy schedule for fan Q&A for Circuit of the Americas.

  14. This weekend, Helio Castroneves on sidelines as girlfriend runs NYC Marathon

    Oct 31, 2014, 11:00 AM EDT

    The Blacks' Annual Gala 2014 Getty Images

    Adriana Henao is running to raise money for actor Sean Penn’s J/P Haitian Relief Organization and The Long Run to Haiti.

  15. WATCH LIVE: FP1 for the United States GP

    Oct 31, 2014, 10:45 AM EDT

    F1 US Grand Prix Auto Racing AP

    Watch first practice from COTA live on Live Extra from 11a ET today.

  16. NASCAR: Elliott Sadler jumping to Roush for 2015 XFINITY Series season

    Oct 31, 2014, 10:00 AM EDT

    Credit: Roush Fenway Racing Credit: Roush Fenway Racing

    Former Sprint Cup veteran will bring his OneMain Financial sponsorship with him.

  17. From GP3 to F1, it’s been quite a year for Daniil Kvyat

    Oct 31, 2014, 9:45 AM EDT

    F1 Grand Prix of Russia Getty Images

    After just one year in F1, Kvyat will be replacing four-time world champion Sebastian Vettel at Red Bull next season. Not bad going!

  18. Extreme Speed gearing up for overseas WEC debut

    Oct 31, 2014, 9:30 AM EDT

    Photo: Extreme Speed Motorsports Photo: Extreme Speed Motorsports

    Extreme Speed takes its HPDs to Shanghai for the FIA WEC race.

  19. FIA confirms changes to qualifying format in Austin

    Oct 31, 2014, 9:15 AM EDT

    AUTO-PRIX-JPN-F1 Getty Images

    Four cars will drop out in Q1 and Q2 to account for the absence of both Caterham and Marussia at COTA.

  20. Grosjean reveals Lotus escape clause

    Oct 30, 2014, 8:00 PM EDT

    GrosjeanAUS AP

    Romain Grosjean can opt out of Lotus at year’s end if he so desires.

Top 10 NASCAR Driver Searches
  1. K. Harvick (1234)
  2. J. Logano (1172)
  3. T. Stewart (1131)
  4. J. McMurray (1121)
  5. D. Hamlin (892)