Jim Cole/Associated Press
It is a rare instance that you find Jimmie Johnson’s name near the bottom of a Sprint Cup results page. Rarer still is to find it there two weekends in a row.
But we saw that exact event happen the past two race weekends.
Johnson was involved in an early wreck at Daytona and then this past weekend fell victim to a tire issue that put him out early. He was officially scored as finishing 42nd on both weekends.
The last time Johnson had consecutive DNFs was 2007, after back-to-back accidents at Chicagoland Speedway and Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The last time he had three consecutive races with a DNF was in 2004.
For any other team, such an occurrence might have been a devastating blow to the entire team’s morale—from top to bottom. How could the team have been so unlucky? How could it ever recover from such misfortune?
But the No. 48 Lowe’s team isn’t your “normal” team by any means. It is a unique group of guys whose hard work has paid off not once but three times this season, offering the team the privilege of celebrating in Victory Lane with its driver, who, by the way, is one of a kind. The same goes for Johnson's crew chief, Chad Knaus.
This Hendrick Motorsports team is all about the postseason races. These guys seem to thrive on it. They work well during the regular season, but during the Chase, they kick things up to a whole different level.
This year, though, they’ll find the challenge of winning a record-tying seventh championship for driver Johnson their toughest ever. Competing against talented teams whose drivers have names like Harvick, Keselowski and even Hendrick teammates Earnhardt Jr. and Jeff Gordon, the Chase won’t be anything like it has been in years past.
So rest up, fellas. Enjoy these days away from the race track. Don’t sweat the past two weekends, as the next seven should seem like a piece of cake in comparison.
But those last 10 weekends…they’ll have to be as close to perfect as you can make them.
*All quotes in this slideshow are taken from official NASCAR, team and manufacturer media releases unless otherwise stated.
Follow Bob Margolis on Twitter: @BobMargolis