Jimmie Johnson’s win in the 55th running of the Daytona 500 puts him on track to win his sixth NASCAR Sprint Cup championship. He is once again at the top of the point standings and takes momentum into Phoenix International Speedway, a racetrack he has four wins at.
Since 2006, Johnson has struggled at Daytona. Before Sunday’s race, he had only two finishes inside the top 10 in his last 13 races at Daytona.
So, does Johnson’s win at a racetrack where he has a history of poor finishes guarantee him the championship in 2013? Not necessarily.
In the five years Johnson won the NASCAR Sprint Cup championship, he finished only one Daytona 500 inside the top 25. The finish came in 2006, when Johnson won his first Daytona 500.
The Daytona 500 has not determined Johnson’s success throughout the season. He has won championships with good performances in the Great American Race and won championships while finishing near the back of the pack.
Johnson’s win in the new Generation-6 car is more important to his success in 2013 than his win at the Daytona 500.
Hendrick Motorsports dominated the top series in NASCAR the last time a new generation of cars was used. It is only one race, but the team is on its way to another dominating season in 2013. Jeff Gordon started on the pole for the Daytona 500, and Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Johnson finished No. 1 and No. 2 in the race.
There is no doubt that Johnson is the leader at Hendrick Motorsports. If the team dominates the 2013 season the way it dominated 2007, Johnson will be holding the NASCAR Sprint Cup championship trophy in Homestead, Miami for a sixth time.
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