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Johnson’s Chase Record Is Mind Numbing

CHARLOTTE, NC (November 4, 2013) – Jimmie Johnson captured his 24th career NASCAR Sprint Cup ‘Championship Chase’ victory Sunday.

That’s right – 24 Chase wins.

That’s more Chase wins than top drivers Kevin Harvick, Carl Edwards, Jeff Burton, Kasey Kahne and Dale Earnhardt, Jr. have individually scored throughout their entire NASCAR Sprint Cup careers.

Johnson’s win at Texas yesterday – the 66th overall Cup victory of his now amazing 13-year career – was among his most dominating leading a whopping 255 of the 334 contested.

About the only thing more mind numbing than Johnson’s performance Sunday is the sheer weight of his overall Chase numbers.

Since its inception in 2004, Johnson has owned NASCAR’s ‘playoff’ system. In addition to 24 wins, Johnson has finished in the top-five in 55 of 98 Chase events. Perhaps even more impressive is Johnson’s 72 top-10 efforts in those 98 championship events.

We won’t even quote the Chase stats of the next nearest competitor as they completely pale in comparison. Let’s just say the rest of the Chase fields over the past 10 seasons have fallen more into the pretender than contender category.

Along the way, Johnson has scored five NASCAR Sprint Cup championships. Sunday’s win put him seven points up on Matt Kenseth with two races remaining in the 2013 title fight.

Will Johnson win again? Is a sixth title just a couple of weeks away.

We’ll leave that up to Johnson, Kenseth and the racing gods.

But it would be hard to bet against Johnson capturing another championship at this point. Win or lose, Johnson has again shown – as he did Sunday at Texas – that he is at his best when the lights of the championship battle are the brightest.

In the end, that’s where greatness is measured in all sports. It’s what you do at ‘crunch time’ or when the title is on the line that separates the champions from the rest of the maddening crowd.

Johnson’s done that five times in the last nine years.

Don’t be surprised if he does it again.

Last Call –

While NASCAR’s Chase was on the minds of even the most peripheral stock car fans this past weekend, another ‘Chase’ was wowing the hard cores.

Chase Elliott continued his meteoric rise up the racing ladder capturing the All American 400 at the Nashville Fairgrounds Speedway Sunday.

The son of legendary NASCAR driver Bill Elliott, Chase has already captured dozens of top-flight stock car races and adding the All American title is just another jewel in an already sparkling driving career that also includes his first ARCA and NASCAR Camping World Truck Series victories this year.

He’s only 16.

Friendly, polite and intelligent off the track, Elliott is the entire package.

Assuming he can continue to network the kind of funding and marketing partners necessary in today’s NASCAR business model, Elliott is the kind of driver in five or six years that could be the ‘young gun’ challenging a now elder statesman Johnson for the 2018 or 2019 Sprint Cup title.

It’s not that far-fetched.

Elliott’s that good.

And Johnson will only be 43 or 44 then.

Who knows?

Someday, it might be a ‘Chase’ who ultimately ends Johnson’s hold on ‘The Chase.’

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John Close covered his first NASCAR race in 1986 at Bristol. Since then, Close – a former Associated Press newspaper sports editor – has written countless articles for numerous motorsports magazines, trade publications and Internet sites.

His Close Calls column appears each week on www.CloseFinishes.com, www.MotorsportsAmerica.com and www.RacingNation.com.

Close has also authored two books – Tony Stewart – From Indy Phenom To NASCAR Superstar and NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series – From Desert Dust To Superspeedways.

Close is a weekly guest every Thursday at 1 p.m. Eastern on Tradin’ Paint on NASCAR SIRIUS Channel 90.

You can follow John Close on Twitter @CloseFinishes and on Facebook at John Close.

Be sure to visit John’s website – www.closefinishes.com