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Predictions for NASCAR 2012: Johnson will return to the top

By admin | February 14, 2012

By Richard Allen

At the beginning of each NASCAR season I put out a list of various predictions regarding what I believe will happen throughout the upcoming season. Typically, I would have already made these calls by this time but with all the changes to have occurred during the off season I thought it prudent to wait and see just how many more moves of drivers and crew members might take place. Surely by now most of the driver and crew shuffling has ended. So, here goes with my first prediction.

By any other driver’s standards, the season Jimmie Johnson recorded in 2011 might have been good enough. But for someone who had been a five time defending champion coming into the season, a campaign that produced two wins and twenty-one top-10 finishes could be considered a disappointment when in the end it resulted in 6th place of the overall Sprint Cup standings.

In previous seasons I have gone by the philosophy that I would continue picking Johnson to win until someone proved he could be beaten. That was proven last year. So now I’m going to go with the philosophy that says I won’t believe he is down until he is beaten again.

Even though Johnson did finish a very respectable 6th in the standings, it was the worst finishing spot of his Sprint Cup driving career. I believe he, crew chief Chad Knaus and the rest of the #48 team will be highly motivated to avenge last year’s showing.

But more than just the motivation of having lost for the first time in five years, this team has other advantages going for it as well. The vast resources of Hendrick Motorsports will offer a particularly significant edge over the competition in 2012.

For one reason, NASCAR has already shown in pre-season testing that they are not afraid to make rule changes. Teams with the greatest resources are best able to adapt to any changes made on short notice. HMS probably has more resources than any other racing organization.

Also, with a new race car to debut in 2013, teams will be stretched to the limit toward the end of this season. For those who have paid attention, HMS is one of the few teams to have absorbed personnel from some of those companies that have faded away or contracted since the end of the most recent campaign. At the end of the season when teams are having to not only consider how to win a championship but also how to get their new cars prepared for the next year, those with the most people and equipment will have the advantage.

Finally, and perhaps most importantly in terms of this discussion, this is a driver and team who obviously know how to win. For that reason as well as being highly motivated and having the most resources at his disposal, I predict Jimmie Johnson will win his sixth NASCAR Sprint Cup title in 2012.

Look for more 2012 season predictions coming soon.

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One Response to “Predictions for NASCAR 2012: Johnson will return to the top”

  1. Bill B Says:
    February 15th, 2012 at 10:50 am

    Probably the best odds but way to go out on a limb Rich.