Object Getting Closer In Johnson’s Mirrors

CHARLOTTE, NC (May 13, 2013) – Jimmie Johnson has roared to a whopping 44-point lead in the NASCAR Sprint Cup championship ‘Chase’ regular season standings after just 11 events this season. A one point per position and 43 cars starting each event, the five-time NASCAR champion is ahead of the competition by one full race.

One full race. A couple of points more and Johnson could take a race off and still be at the top standings the following week.


But as good as Johnson’s two wins, eight top-10 finishes and an 11-race finishing average of 6.7 have been, there’s trouble lurking in his rearview mirror and it’s getting bigger.

Don’t look now, but Matt Kenseth and Joe Gibbs Racing have it going on. They’re fast, crazy fast in every race. This past weekend at Darlington, Kenseth stayed sizzling hot coming on at the end to win the 64th-Annual Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway.

Kenseth has been dominating in recent weeks. In his own words – he gave away a win after leading 142 of the 192 laps last weekend at Talladega. A week before at Richmond, Kenseth sat on the pole and led 140 laps eventually coming home seventh.

The week before that?

Kenseth crushed the field leading 162 of 267 at Kansas, his win setting off a firestorm of NASCAR technical penalties and controversy that has been a sideshow for the team throughout this most recent run of dominating performances.

Lightning quick, winning efforts every week despite the distractions.

No doubt, Johnson is having a great year. He finished fourth at Darlington Saturday and came home third at Kansas, 12th at Richmond and fifth at Talladega.

Tough to argue those results, but Johnson led only 25 laps in those five races and none on Saturday at Darlington. He’s not exactly showing the way in any of these events. Saturday, the Gibbs’ guys reduced him – and everyone else – to also-ran status regardless of finish.

Maybe that will all change as the series heads to Charlotte. At first blush, Johnson’s stats there look great. He did win at CMS five times early in his career. His sixth, and only CMS win since 2005, came in 2009. In the six Cup races, Johnson has posted three finishes of 28th or worse and a 19.3 finishing average.

No question here – Johnson’s not going away. His consistency early this season has given him a leg up in the championship standings. But his Hendrick Motorsports Chevys aren’t the fastest iron on the lot this season.

Johnson knows it. Everybody knows it.

That honor goes to Kenseth and JGR.

Birthday Shout Out

Good buddy Rich Bickle has another birthday today, Monday, May 13.

Spotted TBD – ‘The Big Dummy’ – in a lot of races during his career and had more fun that any of us ever imagined possible.

This season, Rich is calling it quits – he’s on his own ‘farewell tour’ competing in more than 60 weekly and special short-track late model events at various raceways throughout the Midwest.

After that, he’s going to concentrate on a new racing passion – an amazing snowmobile design called Bickle Built Outlaw 600. Very cool stuff.

Anyway, just wanted to give a BD shout out my boy. If you have a chance, catch one of Bickle’s races this year and a beer with him afterward. Pretty sure you’ll enjoy both.

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