Are we just ignoring the obvious now, is this it for Jimmie Johnson? He’s had two of his worst seasons ever over the last two years in the sport and is off to another bad start in 2019.
He led 558 laps in 2015. That was the least amount of laps led for him since leading 547 total circuits in 2005. A year later, he only led 737 laps for the season. He’d kill for a season like that now.
In 2017 and 2018, he only led 217 and 40 laps respectively. He’s led more laps in single races in the past than what he led in those 72 races combined. So far through six races in 2019, he’s led only four laps.
Over his last 78 starts, he has six total top five finishes, four in 2017 and just two last year. He had at least 11 top five finishes in a single season in every year since 2003 prior. His average finish in 2017 was 16.8. Last year, it was 16.7. To start off this year, it’s 16.8.
The last two years, Johnson had 11 top 10 finishes in each. He had 20+ in all of his prior seasons with the exception of one (16 in 2016).
But, with a new rules package for 2019 as well as a new crew chief, we all thought that maybe old seven-time could turn things around again. After all, he won the season opening Clash at Daytona.
But, it’s been an overall struggle still. After finishing two laps down in 24th at statistically one of his best tracks last weekend in Martinsville, is it time to say this is who Johnson is now?
He’s won nine times in his career in Martinsville. He had 24 top 10 finishes heading into 2017. That was HIS track. But, his last five finishes there now are 15th, 12th, 15th, 12th and 24th respectively.
If he can’t perform at Texas this weekend, a track that he’s scored seven wins and 21 top 10 finishes in 31 tries, then where can he?
From 2012 through the spring race that he won in 2017 in Texas, Johnson had nine top six finishes in 11 tries. Among those nine were six wins and a runner-up.
But, in his three starts since, Johnson has brought his No. 48 Chevrolet home 27th, 35th and 15th respectively.
Maybe this is the new Johnson.
Sunday will tell us a lot.