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. Audi: Rumors of potential F1 entry just “pure speculation”

    Oct 25, 2014, 6:00 PM EDT

    AudiDuval1 Getty Images

    The 4-Rings takes to Facebook to dismiss yet another revival of the rumors that it’s going Grand Prix racing in the near-future.

  2. NASCAR Trucks: Crafton still controls title race, but Bubba looming larger

    Oct 25, 2014, 4:30 PM EDT

    Kroger 200 - Qualifying Getty Images

    Battle for Truck Series championship becomes three-horse race.

  3. Bubba Wallace pays homage to NASCAR Hall of Famer Wendell Scott with encore win at Martinsville

    Oct 25, 2014, 4:04 PM EDT

    (Robert Laberge/NASCAR via Getty Images) Getty Images

    Darrell “Bubba” Wallace Jr. won his first career NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race at Martinsville Speedway last October. He returned to the short bullring one year later to win there again in Saturday’s Kroger 200.

  4. Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Justin Allgaier trying to bounce back after missing Talladega

    Oct 25, 2014, 2:28 PM EDT

    Goody's Headache Relief Shot 500 - Practice Getty Images

    Stenhouse and Allgaier will start mid-pack on Sunday at Martinsville.

  5. Haas: Starting F1 team my biggest challenge yet

    Oct 25, 2014, 1:30 PM EDT

    Gene Haas Formula One Press Conference Getty Images

    Says first five years in F1 are about surviving, but cannot see the project failing.

  6. Kevin Harvick quickest in final Sprint Cup practice at Martinsville

    Oct 25, 2014, 1:04 PM EDT

    Goody's Headache Relief Shot 500 - Practice Getty Images

    Harvick turns in a 19.457-second lap around the Virginia half-mile to top “Happy Hour.”

  7. COTA set to provide Vettel with a dose of nostalgia

    Oct 25, 2014, 12:30 PM EDT

    F1 US Grand Prix Auto Racing AP

    German driver looking forward to tackling the Circuit of The Americas in Austin next weekend.

  8. Dale Jr. Foundation gives brand new 2015 Corvette to ailing fan

    Oct 25, 2014, 12:30 PM EDT

    (Photo courtesy WITN.com) (Photo courtesy WITN.com)

    Despite fighting breast cancer for the third time, NASCAR fan Wendy Smith decided to spend $25 to help others even less fortunate. Her gratuity paid off in a big way, earning a brand new $65,000 Chevrolet Corvette.

  9. Danica Patrick angry with NASCAR over ‘Dega qualifying, questions its diversity program

    Oct 25, 2014, 12:00 PM EDT

    Goody's Headache Relief Shot 500 - Qualifying Getty Images

    Patrick not afraid to tackle thorny topics yesterday at Martinsville.

  10. Bubba Wallace honors Wendell Scott by earning pole for Martinsville Truck race

    Oct 25, 2014, 11:35 AM EDT

    (Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images) Getty Images

    On a weekend that carries a lot of significance for honoring NASCAR Hall of Fame-elect inductee Wendell Scott, Darrell “Bubba” Wallace Jr. paid tribute in his own way to Scott, earning the pole for Saturday’s Kroger 200 Camping World Truck Series race.

  11. Karthikeyan: F1 completely unsustainable for small teams

    Oct 25, 2014, 11:30 AM EDT

    F1 Grand Prix Of India Getty Images

    Former HRT driver casts his damning judgement on the current cost crisis in F1.

  12. Will the top powers in F1 now get the message about the cost crisis? Don’t count on it

    Oct 25, 2014, 10:30 AM EDT

    AUTO-PRIX-JPN-F1 Getty Images

    The demise of both Caterham and Marussia has been on the cards for some time, yet Formula 1 has allowed it to happen.

  13. Jimmie Johnson, Jeff Gordon pace early-morning Sprint Cup practice at Martinsville

    Oct 25, 2014, 10:03 AM EDT

    (Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images) Getty Images

    Despite chilly temperatures in the mid-40s in the 50-minute early-morning session, Jimmie Johnson led all drivers in the next-to-last Sprint Cup practice with a best lap of 98.023 mph, the only driver over the 98 mph mark.

  14. Sir Jack Brabham’s life and legacy celebrated in special event at Silverstone

    Oct 25, 2014, 9:30 AM EDT

    Australian F1 Grand Prix - Race Getty Images

    Over 400 people attend special event in celebration of Brabham’s life and legacy.

  15. Maldonado hoping for strong finish to 2014 season

    Oct 25, 2014, 8:30 AM EDT

    F1 Grand Prix of Japan - Practice Getty Images

    Lotus driver has failed to score any points in 2014, but feels that next season will hold better things.

  16. Moto GP: Marquez breaks pole position record in Malaysia

    Oct 25, 2014, 7:00 AM EDT

    MOTO-PRIX-MAS Getty Images

    Yet another record falls to the Spanish sensation in Malaysia.

  17. Marussia also set to miss United States GP

    Oct 25, 2014, 5:48 AM EDT

    AUTO-PRIX-RUS-PRACTICE Getty Images

    Bernie Ecclestone claims that there will be just 18 cars racing in Austin.

  18. Jimmie Johnson: ‘That day is out there’ when he’ll split with crew chief Chad Knaus

    Oct 24, 2014, 11:50 PM EDT

    (Patrick Smith/Getty Images) Getty Images

    In a surprisingly candid admission, six-time Sprint Cup champ Jimmie Johnson says that while nothing is imminent, the day is coming when he and crew chief Chad Knaus will go their separate ways.

  19. ‘Hey, I’m Kevin (Harvick), welcome to Outback. Can I get you a table?’ (with video)

    Oct 24, 2014, 11:32 PM EDT

    (Photo courtesy Outback Steakhouse) (Photo courtesy Outback Steakhouse)

    In a bemusing video released Thursday, NASCAR star Kevin Harvick spent one of his recent off nights working the room at an Outback Steakhouse.

  20. Jeff Gordon delivers 1 millionth meal for Drive To End Hunger to 89-year-old race fan

    Oct 24, 2014, 10:30 PM EDT

    (Photo courtesy WFMYnews2.com) (Photo courtesy WFMYnews2.com)

    On Thursday, Jeff Gordon delivered the one millionth meal served by one of Gordon’s key sponsors, the Drive To End Hunger.

Video from NASCAR America

Remembering the Hendrick Motorsports plane crash
Top 10 NASCAR Driver Searches
  1. R. Preece (1942)
  2. K. Busch (1665)
  3. M. Kenseth (1512)
  4. R. Newman (1410)
  5. L. Cassill (1290)
  1. D. Coby (1259)
  2. K. Kahne (1192)
  3. B. Keselowski (1182)
  4. W. Pitkat (1171)
  5. J. Johnson (1169)