Apr 28, 2014, 1:08 AM EDT
With one-fourth of the 2014 season already in the books, Jimmie Johnson is getting deeper and deeper in a winless hole, but it’s not the deepest he’s been to start a season.
Johnson went the first 11 races of 2003 without winning before cashing in at Charlotte in the 12th race of the season.
He went 10 winless races before winning in the 11th race of 2012 at Darlington.
And he went nine races in 2002 before winning his first of three races that season.
(Coincidentally, Johnson failed to go on to win any of his six Sprint Cup championships in those seasons)
So, there’s precedent for Johnson fans who are growing increasingly worried that the six-time and defending Sprint Cup champ still hasn’t visited victory lane in 2014.
It’s easy to understand that concern, given that Johnson finished a season-worst 32nd Saturday at Richmond, finishing four laps down to the leaders and dropping to eighth in the Sprint Cup standings (also a season-low for him).
It’s the second straight poor performance Johnson has had at the .750-mile track at Richmond, having finished 40th there in the final Chase for the Sprint Cup qualifying event last September.
“I really thought we had a decent car and was going to run in the top-five, top 10 at the worst,” said Johnson, a former three-time winner at Richmond. “Then we had one run where we cut a right-front and the next run another right-front.
“I’m not exactly sure why we had that issue, but we did have back-to-back tire issues there. That really just kind of put an end to our night. We didn’t have anything for the win, but I thought we could run top-five.”
Seventeen races remain until the expanded 16-driver field for this season’s revamped Chase format is set. But ever the picture of positive mental attitude, Johnson is not worried about making the Chase, let alone winning a race or two – or more – in the next four-plus months prior to the start of the Chase in mid-September.
“This track has been tough on us so when it happened I was like, ‘alright things like that happen to us here,'” Johnson said of Richmond. “But I know we have some really good race tracks coming up and I’m looking forward to those tracks.
“This Chase and the way you can work your way into the Chase is more forgiving than it has ever been. We might have to count on that this year and make sure we get in the Chase a little later than we want.”
*** By the way, in case you’re wondering, Johnson’s best season starts have been 2010 (won three of the first five races), 2007 (won three of first six) and 2006 (won three of first nine). Not coincidentally, he went on to win championships in each of those seasons.
Follow me @JerryBonkowski
Aug 30, 2014, 12:00 PM EDT
Rumors about Ferrari’s line-up unfounded; Mattiacci plans to keep both Kimi and Fernando on for 2015.
Aug 30, 2014, 11:00 AM EDT
The high-speed circuit plays host to the Italian Grand Prix next weekend.
Aug 30, 2014, 10:15 AM EDT
Charlie Kimball on last night’s accident with Mikhail Aleshin.
Aug 30, 2014, 10:00 AM EDT
The fight with Ferrari is set to rage on until the end of the season.
Aug 30, 2014, 9:00 AM EDT
Deputy team principal Federico Gastaldi is going into the Italian Grand Prix weekend with an open mind.
Aug 30, 2014, 7:30 AM EDT
Lotus driver doesn’t think the removal of the gravel track at the corner will change a great deal.
Aug 29, 2014, 11:45 PM EDT
Severe looking three-car accident affects Mikhail Aleshin and two others.
Aug 29, 2014, 8:45 PM EDT
Harvick earns his sixth Sprint Cup pole of 2014 with the help of some advice from returning boss and teammate Tony Stewart.
Aug 29, 2014, 8:00 PM EDT
Helio Castroneves on pole; Will Power struggles to P21 for Verizon IndyCar Series qualifying.
Aug 29, 2014, 7:29 PM EDT
The Nationwide Series rookie and Sprint Cup regular top today’s two practice sessions ahead of tomorrow night’s Great Clips 300 benefiting Feed The Children.
Aug 29, 2014, 7:06 PM EDT
HAMPTON, Ga. — According to Jeff Gordon, the last three Sprint Cup races just weren’t quite the same without Tony Stewart. Gordon is glad Stewart is back.
Aug 29, 2014, 7:00 PM EDT
Danica Patrick, Kevin Harvick, Jeff Gordon, Greg Biffle, Ryan Newman, and Brian Vickers share their thoughts on Tony Stewart getting back behind the wheel in Atlanta.
Aug 29, 2014, 6:45 PM EDT
The 500-mile shootout may be late Saturday night in Fontana, but still promises a bevy of story lines for the Verizon IndyCar Series season finale.
Aug 29, 2014, 6:25 PM EDT
NBCSN contributor Nate Ryan also reports on the atmosphere around Tony Stewart’s return at Atlanta Motor Speedway.
Aug 29, 2014, 6:02 PM EDT
“…[Stewart] being in the race car right now is about him getting through what has been a very emotional two weeks, and what his next step is in coping with this.” – Stewart Haas Racing’s Brett Frood
Aug 29, 2014, 5:41 PM EDT
Brian Vickers and other winless drivers are facing big-time pressure to get a victory in the final races of the regular season.
Aug 29, 2014, 5:30 PM EDT
Porsche GT-Cup class class to enter into Pirelli World Challenge in 2015.
Aug 29, 2014, 5:00 PM EDT
Coming up today: More on the return of Tony Stewart at Atlanta Motor Speedway.
Aug 29, 2014, 4:45 PM EDT
Houston gone and momentum grows for Canadian Tire Motorsport Park, if a date can be found, for IndyCar.
Aug 29, 2014, 4:16 PM EDT
Following an emotional press conference this morning, the three-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion got back to work.
Video from NASCAR America
- Aleshin conscious following heavy accident in MAVTV 500 final practice (UPDATED, VIDEO) 3
- Kevin Harvick wins Atlanta Sprint Cup pole; Stewart qualifies 12th 1
- Castroneves secures crucial MAVTV 500 pole; Power starts P21 for IndyCar finale (VIDEO) 3
- Jeff Gordon: Last 3 races weren’t the same without Tony Stewart 3
- IndyCar has 500 miles to glory, through speed, dirt, tire fall off and unpredictability 0
- How NASCAR determined Tony Stewart was ready to race again 5
- Helton: Tony Stewart still eligible for Chase, but must win to get in 4