NO SIX TH SENSE
Words Tom Jensen
Portrait Nigel Kinrade/LAT
Jimmie Johnson may win a sixth NASCAR Sprint Cup Series title,
but it would go against the run of play if he were to do so in 2011.
oing purely by the numbers
and performing a cold, critical,
In his first nine seasons in NASCAR’s
top division, Johnson averaged 5.89 race
victories per season and one win every
6. 17 starts. Yet he’s earned just one
victory in his last 30 starts, dating all
the way back to Dover in September
2010. Johnson is on track to have the
fewest victories in a single season for his
entire career. He’s on track to have the
fewest number of top fives in a season
since 2006 and could end the year with
his fewest top 10s, as well.
And perhaps the most damning
statistics of all revolve around leading
races: After 22 races in 2011, Johnson
ranked eighth in percentage of miles led
on the season. In a 10-race stretch from
from the Coca-Cola 600 in May to the
second Pocono race in August, Johnson
failed to lead even one lap in seven of
those 10 races.
Relative to his rivals, JJ hasn’t lost the
plot. After 22 races, he lay third in the
standings, just six points o; the leader.
But by the phenomenally high standards
of Johnson and the No. 48 team, it’s
been an unconvincing campaign.
Nigel Kinrade/LA T
The champ has spent much of the year
in the shadows. (ABOVE) Track position
is now as important as outright pace.