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. Brendan Gaughan takes lead with 6 laps to go, wins Nationwide at Kentucky

    Sep 20, 2014, 10:35 PM EDT

    Bristol Motor Speedway - Day 1 Getty Images

    A wild final restart opened the door for Gaughan to out-hustle Chase Elliott and Ty Dillon late on Saturday night at Kentucky Speedway.

  2. IndyCar: Kanaan wins Dan Wheldon Memorial Pro-Am charity kart race (VIDEO)

    Sep 20, 2014, 9:00 PM EDT

    KanaanTMSP1-2 Getty Images

    More than a dozen former and current IndyCar drivers take part in the special event that honors the late two-time Indy 500 champ and raises money for Alzheimer’s research.

  3. NASCAR: Tough Kentucky track awaits Regan Smith this evening

    Sep 20, 2014, 7:30 PM EDT

    Kentucky Speedway - Day 1 Getty Images

    With seven races left in the Nationwide schedule, can Smith start making up ground on teammate Chase Elliott in the championship?

  4. IMSA: Ganassi holds on for COTA win; Viper, 8Star big winners

    Sep 20, 2014, 7:11 PM EDT

    PruettCOTAWin Getty Images

    Ganassi Riley-Ford, 8Star Motorsports, Vipers win in COTA.

  5. Wendy Venturini to become first female to call Sprint Cup race on radio Sunday at New Hampshire

    Sep 20, 2014, 6:30 PM EDT

    (Photo courtesy WendyVenturini.com) (Photo courtesy WendyVenturini.com)

    When Wendy Venturini walks into the press box at New Hampshire Motor Speedway prior to Sunday’s Sylvania 300 Sprint Cup race, she will become part of NASCAR history.

  6. Red Bull GRC: Scott Speed scores third win of 2014 in Los Angeles Race 1

    Sep 20, 2014, 6:03 PM EDT

    GRCLogo

    The Red Bull GRC championship tightens dramatically after the first race of the weekend in L.A.

  7. Ty Dillon, Sam Hornish Jr. on front row for Saturday night’s NNS race at Kentucky

    Sep 20, 2014, 5:42 PM EDT

    Ty Dillon KY 2014 Getty Images

    Ty Dillon is bound and determined to give it his all to win the Nationwide Series championship this season. He took a big step Saturday afternoon by earning the pole for the VisitMyrtleBeach.com 300 later that evening at Kentucky Speedway. Sam Hornish Jr. will start on the outside of the front row.

  8. WATCH: Red Bull Global Rallycross begins doubleheader weekend in L.A.

    Sep 20, 2014, 4:45 PM EDT

    GRCLogo

    CLICK HERE for stream links to the first of two GRC finals this weekend from Los Angeles.

  9. 16-year-old Cole Custer becomes youngest-ever winner of NASCAR national series race

    Sep 20, 2014, 4:00 PM EDT

    UNOH 175 Getty Images

    Custer holds off Darrell Wallace Jr. and Matt Crafton to win the Camping World Truck Series’ UNOH 175 at New Hampshire.

  10. F1 Qualifying Analysis: Missed opportunities allow Hamilton to rule again

    Sep 20, 2014, 3:30 PM EDT

    Singapore F1 GP Auto Racing AP

    Ferrari and Red Bull could have – perhaps even should have – been in the mix for pole position. Mercedes was simply too good for them, once again, though.

  11. Tyler Clary hopes to go from Olympic gold medal swimmer to NASCAR driver

    Sep 20, 2014, 3:20 PM EDT

    Tyler Clary 2014

    Head-to-head, there’s very few Sprint Cup drivers that can beat Jimmie Johnson. But Tyler Clary can kick Johnson’s butt any time he wants to.

  12. Red Bull GRC: Friday recap from Los Angeles (VIDEO)

    Sep 20, 2014, 2:25 PM EDT

    GRCLogo

    Friday recap from Red Bull GRC in LA is in the books.

  13. Engine glitch leaves Grosjean fuming over the radio in Singapore

    Sep 20, 2014, 2:00 PM EDT

    F1 Grand Prix of Singapore - Practice Getty Images

    “We break our balls to make a good qualifying and you lose five-tenths every single straight line because the thing cuts” – tough talk from the Frenchman.

  14. Vettel thinks pole was possible in Singapore

    Sep 20, 2014, 1:30 PM EDT

    F1 Grand Prix of Singapore - Qualifying Getty Images

    Defending world champion disappointed to only finish fourth in qualifying at Marina Bay.

  15. Magnussen: McLaren can’t be happy with today (VIDEO)

    Sep 20, 2014, 1:00 PM EDT

    F1 Grand Prix of Singapore - Qualifying Getty Images

    Reaching Q3 for the seventh race in a row not enough for Magnussen.

  16. Jeff Gordon posts quickest lap in final Sprint Cup practice at N.H.

    Sep 20, 2014, 12:45 PM EDT

    Sylvania 300 - Practice Getty Images

    For the first time all weekend at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, someone else besides Brad Keselowski got to the top of the leaderboard.

  17. Alonso happy with fifth in Singapore GP qualifying (VIDEO)

    Sep 20, 2014, 12:30 PM EDT

    F1 Grand Prix of Singapore - Qualifying Getty Images

    Ferrari looked to be in the running for pole in Singapore, but Alonso is still pleased with fifth place on the grid.

  18. Ricciardo: Red Bull closer to Mercedes than expected

    Sep 20, 2014, 12:00 PM EDT

    F1 Grand Prix of Singapore - Qualifying Getty Images

    Australian driver qualifies third for the Singapore Grand Prix ahead of teammate Sebastian Vettel.

  19. NASCAR: Cole Custer on pole for Truck Series at N.H.

    Sep 20, 2014, 11:45 AM EDT

    Carneros 200 - Qualifying Getty Images

    The 16-year-old earns his second career Truck Series pole ahead of today’s UNOH 175 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.

  20. Rosberg frustrated to fall 0.007 seconds short of pole

    Sep 20, 2014, 11:30 AM EDT

    Singapore F1 GP Auto Racing AP

    The F1 championship leader falls agonizingly short of pole position in qualifying for the Singapore GP on Saturday.

Video from NASCAR America

Which longshot will advance in Chase?
Top 10 NASCAR Driver Searches
  1. B. Keselowski (2013)
  2. J. Gordon (1589)
  3. K. Harvick (1502)
  4. K. Busch (1447)
  5. M. Crafton (1356)