Jimmie Johson Thrives In NASCAR's Chase System

Ashley McCubbinAnalyst IFebruary 22, 2010

FONTANA, CA - FEBRUARY 21:  Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe's Chevrolet, celebrates winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Auto Club 500 with a burnout at Auto Club Speedway on February 21, 2010 in Fontana, California.  (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)
Jeff Gross/Getty Images

Chris Myers made the point after Jimmie Johnson won the Auto Club 500 saying that this is only Johnson’s second win in February, in reference to his points win. This seems appropriate to the No. 48 team due to how they succeed under the Chase format.

Below are his 48 career wins (points races only) with the month in which they were won.

In 2002, Johnson won three races—one in April (California), one in June (Dover), and one in September (Dover).

In 2003, he won three races—one in May (Charlotte), one in July (New Hampshire), and one in September (New Hampshire).

In 2004, he won eight races—one in March (Darlington), one in May (Charlotte), one in June (Pocono), one in August (Pocono), three in October (Charlotte, Martinsville, Atlanta), and one in November (Darlington).

In 2005, he won three races—one in March (Las Vegas), one in May (Charlotte), and one in September (Dover).

In 2006, he won five races—one in February (Daytona), one in March (Las Vegas), one in April (Talladega), one in August (Indianapolis), and one in October (Martinsville).

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In 2007, he won 10 races—two in March (Las Vegas and Atlanta), one in April (Martinsville), one in May (Richmond), two in September (California and Richmond), two in October (Martinsville and Atlanta), and two in November (Texas and Phoenix).

In 2008, he won seven races—one in April (Phoenix), one in July (Indianapolis), one in August (California), two in September (Richmond and Kansas), one in October (Martinsville), and one in November (Phoenix).

In 2009, he won seven races—one in March (Martinsville), one in May (Dover), one in July (Indianapolis), one in September (Dover), two in October (California and Charlotte), and one in November (Phoenix).

In 2010, he has won one race so far—Sunday’s Auto Club 500.

Putting this together, you’d see the following stats:

February: 2 wins

March: 6 wins

April: 4 wins

May: 5 wins

June: 2 wins

July: 3 wins

August: 3 wins

September: 8 wins

October: 9 wins

November: 5 wins

In looking at these numbers, you can quickly see why Johnson succeeds in the Chase as most of his wins have come in the months of September and October. Another tidbit is that 25 of his wins came in the first seven months of racing, while 22 came in the final three.

On average, during the regular season he wins approximately three races per month, while in the Chase he wins seven races per month. Or in similar non-mathematical terms, almost half of his wins have come in the Chase.

This is something that crew chief Chad Knaus and the No. 48 team have done by design. They use the first 26 races of the season as a test, trying out stuff for the final 12 races.

They will maybe try a setup that normally you wouldn’t try, or mess around with the front geometry a little. Once they’re in the chase, they take the best of what they learned and apply it to those final 10 races.

This is why Jimmie Johnson is now a four-time consecutive Sprint Cup champion, as he has learned to use the Chase format to his advantage. Until other teams pick up on this and use it as effectively (if not, better) as the No. 48 team does, there’s no stopping the No. 48 team.