Is Win at Dover the Start of Jimmie Johnson's 6th Title Run?

Jerry Bonkowski@@jerrybonkowskiFeatured ColumnistSeptember 30, 2013

It's almost as if Jimmie Johnson had a premonition in Sunday's pre-race introductions that it would ultimately be his day there -- and for a record-setting eighth time.
It's almost as if Jimmie Johnson had a premonition in Sunday's pre-race introductions that it would ultimately be his day there -- and for a record-setting eighth time.Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images

Where have we seen this reality show before?

Fall 2005 – Jimmie Johnson wins at Dover and almost winds up winning what would have been his first Sprint Cup championship, only to fall short to Tony Stewart.

Fall 2009 – Fast forward four years, Johnson wins at Dover (also won there that spring) and goes on to win his fourth consecutive Cup championship.

Fall 2010 – Johnson wins at Dover and goes on to win his fifth straight Cup crown.

Fall 2013 – Johnson sets the record for most wins by a driver at Dover, earning his eighth victory there—and fifth in his last 10 starts at the one-mile concrete track.

Do you see a pattern here?

Even with what Matt Kenseth and Kyle Busch did in the first two races of the Chase—finishing 1-2 at both Chicagoland and New Hampshire—"five-time" is back with his first win of the Chase and potentially starting his kick to change his nickname to "six-time."

Okay, maybe I'm stretching the truth there a bit.

Actually, Johnson kicked off his bid for championship No. 6 when he won the season-opening Daytona 500 back in February. And then, for an encore in July, he came back to win again at NASCAR's most notable racetrack.

Or maybe it was when Johnson dominated and led the points in all but two of the first 26 regular season races (the other two weeks, he slipped only to No. 3) before being tied with the younger Busch brother when the points were reset after Richmond to start the 10th edition of the Chase.

Or when Johnson and Busch were the first drivers to earn four wins, yet had to settle for a tie for second when the Chase standings were reseeded after Kenseth won his fifth race of the year at Bristol.

It's kind of silly how so many people may have already forgotten just how strong Johnson was during the first 26 races this season. That's why what he did on Sunday should come as no surprise.

Given how masterful he has been at Dover throughout his Cup career, it's easy to see why Johnson came into Sunday's race as one of the favorites, and why he left it with a win and a new track record that likely will stand for a long time to come.

Don't believe me? Who was tied for most wins at Dover with Johnson coming into Sunday's race?

None other than NASCAR legends Richard Petty and Bobby Allison. Petty won his seventh and last race at Dover in spring of 1984; Allison won his seventh at the one before that in the fall of 1983.

So if it took nearly 30 years until Johnson came along and ultimately broke such an enduring mark, how long do you think five-time's record will stand? I'm willing to bet for at least 40 more years, if it will ever be broken.

No one else comes close to what Johnson has done at Dover. Those drivers with the next highest amount of wins there are Johnson's teammate, Jeff Gordon and Mark Martin, both with four wins each.

Now that he has his eighth win at The Monster Mile, what does Johnson do for an encore?

Go out and win his sixth championship, of course.

And for all that's been said about Kenseth and Kyle Busch building upon their success in the first two races to dominate the rest of the Chase, Johnson made it very clear Sunday that he intends on going right back to doing in the remaining seven Chase races what he did for the first 26 races of the season.

The numbers certainly are in his favor. Of those seven tracks—Kansas, Charlotte, Talladega, Martinsville, Texas, Phoenix and Homestead—Johnson has a staggering record.

Of his 65 career Cup wins (in 428 starts after Sunday at Dover), Johnson has 24 wins at the seven combined upcoming tracks, with the most being eight at Martinsville and six at Charlotte.

Ironically, he has never won at Homestead, one of only five Cup tracks that he has never captured a checkered flag.

But given the way Johnson dominated the standings during the regular season, and the way he dominated Sunday at Dover, what better way for him to put a final stamp upon this season if he dominates the rest of the way and seals up his sixth Cup title with a win in the season and championship finale in south Florida.

It's almost like the most fitting ending of all.

Follow me on Twitter @JerryBonkowski


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