•   
  •   
  •   

SportBrendan Marks: Is Jimmie Johnson's NASCAR title window closed?

19:30  07 december  2018
19:30  07 december  2018 Source:   latimes.com

Is Jimmie Johnson's NASCAR title window closed? Depends if you trust history or heart

Is Jimmie Johnson's NASCAR title window closed? Depends if you trust history or heart Dec. 06--It's a question no NASCAR fan truly wants the answer to, and yet it still bears asking: Are we witnessing the beginning of the end of Jimmie Johnson? As NASCAR's offseason trudges on, and final sponsorships or driver deals are announced, Johnson finds himself involved in the shakeup for seemingly the first time ever. Next season, his 19th at the Cup Series level, will be his first without longtime sponsor Lowe's and crew chief Chad Knaus. Together, that trio was responsible for a record-tying seven Cup champions, 83 wins, and one of the most storied racing careers in the modern era. Was, being the key word there. As in, past tense.

Jimmie Kenneth Johnson (born September 17, 1975) is an American professional stock car racing driver and a seven-time champion in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series.

Jimmie Johnson is a seven-time Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series champion at Hendrick Motorsports. Johnson became the first driver to win five consecutive championships when he took home the title from 2006 to 2010. He also has 83 career Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series wins

Brendan Marks: Is Jimmie Johnson's NASCAR title window closed?© JOSE CARLOS FAJARDO/East Bay Times/TNS NASCAR driver Jimmie Johnson (48) hi-fives fans during driver introductions before the start of the Toyota/Save Mart 350 at Sonoma Raceway in Sonoma, Calif., on Sunday, June 24, 2018. It's a question no NASCAR fan truly wants the answer to, and yet it still bears asking:

Are we witnessing the beginning of the end of Jimmie Johnson?

As NASCAR's offseason trudges on, and final sponsorships or driver deals are announced, Johnson finds himself involved in the shakeup for seemingly the first time ever. Next season, his 19th at the Cup Series level, will be his first without longtime sponsor Lowe's and crew chief Chad Knaus. Together, that trio was responsible for a record-tying seven Cup champions, 83 wins, and one of the most storied racing careers in the modern era.

Jimmie Johnson hopes to compete in Chili Bowl ‘one of these years’

Jimmie Johnson hopes to compete in Chili Bowl ‘one of these years’ Jimmie Johnson expressed an interest in the midget race.

Jimmie Johnson climbs into his car during practice for the Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on Nov. In fact, Lowe’ s announcing it would cease sponsoring Jimmie Johnson and Hendrick Motorsports past this season was a move many within the NASCAR industry foresaw

A series of split-second decisions are often the deciding factor in sports between triumph and heartbreak. Jimmie Johnson endured the latter on Sunday afternoon. Running second to race leader Martin Truex Jr. on the final lap of the inaugural Bank of America Roval 400

Was, being the key word there. As in, past tense.

But the reason it doesn't feel blasphemous to question Johnson's future, more than changing sponsors or crew chiefs, is his most recent season. Which, as Johnson would surely tell you, was the biggest disappointment of his professional career.

For the first time since he became a full-time Cup driver, Johnson did not win a race. None. Zip. Thirty-six tries, zero victories to show for it.

Yikes.

Even in 2017, which Johnson previously called the most challenging season of his career, there were three wins to (sort of) buoy his disappointment.

Not this time around.

Listen: Johnson's 43, turning 44 before the end of the 2019 season. He'll be working with a new crew chief and new sponsor for the first time. And again, coming off a big ol' goose egg.

Alonso: Bahrain NASCAR test is 'just pure fun'

Alonso: Bahrain NASCAR test is 'just pure fun' Fernando Alonso says his NASCAR test in Bahrain on Monday is for “pure fun”.

Jimmie Johnson embraces challenges, search for a win. Dressed in jeans, a polo shirt and a baseball cap, the seven-time Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series champion freely After his last win — at Dover last June — Johnson closed out the season with eight finishes of 24th or worse, three

Jimmie Johnson finished fifth in the Coke 600, but he' s now winless in the last 36 races. They did an ultrasound and they said my cervix was still closed and she was in there but I was in the As NASCAR marked the end of the Cup season Thursday with the Cup Awards banquet in Las Vegas, it

Really, maybe the better question to be asking here is:

Is Johnson's NASCAR championship window closed?

The answer depends on if you listen to your heart, or to the history books.

As mentioned before, Johnson turns 44 in September. If he were to win his record eighth Cup title in 2019, he'd be the third-oldest champion in the history of stock car racing's highest division. Bobby Allison was the oldest, winning his only Cup title at the age of 45 in 1983, and Lee Petty also won his final championship when he was 45 in 1959. But in the modern era, Johnson would absolutely be setting a precedent by winning into his 40s.

The only two close comparisons in modern history belong to Tony Stewart, whose third title came at age 40 in 2011, and ... well, Johnson himself, back in 2016.

And that was before Johnson's whole world turned upside down.

Now, Johnson easily could right the ship in 2019, following on Chase Elliott's promising end-of-year run for Hendrick Motorsports. While Johnson, rookie William Byron and Alex Bowman all struggled for the majority of 2018, Elliott had his breakthrough season of sorts, winning three races and almost advancing to the championship race at Homestead. Hendrick and the new Chevy Camaro they raced in 2018 clearly weren't as successful as they had been in years past, but the team still found success in certain settings.

New Jimmie Johnson crew chief talks pressure-filled, incredible opportunity

New Jimmie Johnson crew chief talks pressure-filled, incredible opportunity Jimmie Johnson enters 2019 with a lot of news. 

Ryan Blaney joked that he had sent Jimmie Johnson a Christmas card in return for his gift at the Charlotte Roval. Johnson said the experience could help him when NASCAR races on its road course events. Kurt Busch led with one lap to go and teammate Kevin Harvick was close behind.

NASCAR live race coverage, latest news, race results, standings, schedules, and driver stats for Monster Energy, XFINITY, Camping World Truck Series.

If anyone were to figure out how to replicate that, wouldn't it be Johnson?

In all likelihood, Johnson's best days are behind him. If Dale Earnhardt and Richard Petty never won an eighth title, it probably stands to reckon how daunting and improbable it is. Especially in the modern age of NASCAR we live in today, where parity and year-in changes reign, counting on any one driver - even one as good as Johnson - to endure at the highest level for 20 years is an unrealistic expectation.

We saw in flashes this year, probably no more clearly than when he wrecked himself and Martin Truex Jr. at Charlotte's Roval in September, how badly Johnson wants to get back to winning. His competitive fire shouldn't be underestimated, ever.

Because of that drive, his intelligence, and Hendrick's end-of-year improvements with Elliott this year, expecting Johnson to get back to his winning ways in 2019 is certainly a reasonable expectation. But whether he's ever able to win another title ... well, the stats don't back it up and neither does Johnson's most recent two seasons.

Again, it's whether you trust history, or your heart.

Visit The Charlotte Observer (Charlotte, N.C.) at www.charlotteobserver.com

NASCAR drivers react to Johnson, Alonso car swap.
After the swap in Bahrain, sprint car drivers are itching to get NASCAR stars into their cars.

—   Share news in the SOC. Networks

Topical videos:

This is interesting!