Jimmie Johnson got his revenge on Brad Keselowski at the first race of the 2012 season.
Other names on that esteemed list include Richard Petty (seven), Cale Yarborough (four), Bobby Allison (three), Dale Jarrett (three), Jeff Gordon (three), Bill Elliott (two), Sterling Marlin (two), Michael Waltrip (two) and Matt Kenseth (two).
Kenseth and Gordon were eyeing to add to their total, but it was Johnson who held them off and joined this elite group.
Joe Gibbs Racing team had lofty expectations coming into this season, but those will have to wait to be realized after their disappointing finishes at Daytona—none of the team’s top drivers finished in the Top 10.
Kenseth had a shot, but was forced to exit early after engine problems consumed his vehicle. He led for 86 laps before the disappointing end to his Daytona hopes. Similarly, teammate Kyle Busch was forced off the track just two laps later with mechanical issues of his own.
This wasn’t a late-race fluke for Johnson, though. He was in contention all day, leading for 17 total laps and ahead of the pack during all of the final 10.
The win was the 61st Sprint Cup Series victory for the 37-year-old Californian. It also solidifies his win streak, giving him at least one victory in each of the last 12 seasons.
His early-season win comes at a good time, too. Johnson hasn’t been performing well at Daytona since his 2006 victory at the race. He finished no better than 27th place in his last six Daytona 500 races and averaged a below-30th finish over that span.
The win was a big one for his team, too, making it the seventh at the Daytona 500 for Hendrick Motorsports.