By admin | August 13, 2012
By Richard Allen
A dominating win at the Brickyard. A dominating performance at Pocono that ended with a soft right rear tire that relegated him to 14th place at the finish. And, a 3rd place run on a Watkins Glen track that has never been one of his best. Yeah, in case you hadn’t noticed, Jimmie Johnson and his Hendrick Motorsports #48 team are peaking at the right time.
And while that is certainly not breaking news for a driver and team who have the hardware from five Sprint Cup championships in their trophy case. It could be considered noteworthy due to the fact that Johnson’s consecutive streak of Chase for the Championship titles was broken last year.
Perhaps the 48 team’s failure of last season was an aberration rather than a sign that that Johnson and his Chad Knaus led crew had lost their edge.
The previously mentioned 3rd place result at Watkins Glen this past Sunday allowed Johnson to assume the top spot in the Sprint Cup standings for the first time in the 2012 season. That would not have seemed possible when teams arrived at the second race of the year when Johnson actually had a negative number of points and a crew chief facing suspension.
All of that came on the heels of a disastrous SpeedWeeks in Daytona where Johnson crashed out just after the completion of the first lap of a 500 mile race. And more, the car had been found to have C-posts that were not to the liking of NASCAR officials prior to qualifying for the big race. That brought about a penalty from the sanctioning body.
As has been well documented, that penalty was eventually overturned in a controversial ruling by an appellate officer of NASCAR. But even had the original decision not been overruled, the 25 point deduction would only drop Johnson to 4th in the current standings. And, he would still have the three wins that will provide him with a bonus once the Chase points are re-set.
But in a way, it appears as though the early season controversy may have helped this team. Last year, there were times when it seemed as if the long standing relationship of Johnson and Knaus was coming apart. Bickering and disagreements over the team radio became almost commonplace on a weekly basis. However, the threat of sanctions being placed on the team looks to have actually galvanized the duo.
The results are now speaking for themselves. Johnson leads the Sprint Cup standings and he is running really well at the right time. So, make no mistake. Jimmie Johnson is the favorite to win his sixth title when Chase time rolls around.
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