News isn't all good for Johnson at Texas

November, 2, 2012
11/02/12
11:13
AM ET

Tyler Garrick/Getty ImagesWill Jimmie Johnson be able to celebrate again this weekend?
Jimmie Johnson took his familiar spot at the top of the Sprint Cup Series standings after a win last Sunday at Martinsville, taking a two-point advantage over Brad Keselowski.

Johnson’s numbers at Texas are impressive.

His career average finish at the track is a 9.7, making him one of two drivers with better than a 10th-place career average finish at the track (Matt Kenseth, at 8.6, is the other).

In the past dozen races at the 1.5-mile track, Johnson has finished in the top two in six of them.

The key to Johnson’s success recently at Texas stems from his ability to move through the field.

Over the past five Sprint Cup Series races at Texas, Johnson leads the field with 313 quality passes, 25 more than any other driver. Quality passes are green-flag passes inside the top 15, a measure of a driver’s ability to pass other top drivers in the field.

But Johnson’s recent Chase race history at the track has been spotty, averaging a 19th-place finish in the past four Chase races at the track, with no finish better than ninth.

To compare, in the last four spring races at the track, Johnson has finished second three times, and eighth in the other.

Being in the points lead heading to Fort Worth may also work against Johnson.

In Johnson’s five championship seasons (2006-10), he entered as the points leader three times, and second in points in the other two.

He finished a career-worst sixth last season and was nearly a full race’s worth of points out of the lead at this point.

In the three races he entered as the points leader (2008-10), Johnson finished 15th, 38th and 9th in the Texas Chase races, and saw his points lead either significantly slashed or erased entirely.

In the two championship seasons he entered out of the points lead, he finished in the top two, and left with a points lead he would not give up.

This is the third time this season that Johnson has held the points lead, but he has yet to hold on to it for consecutive races.

After taking over the points lead at Watkins Glen in August, Johnson blew an engine while leading late at Michigan the next week, finishing 27th and dropping to fourth in points.

Early in the Chase, Johnson took the points lead after finishing second at New Hampshire, but Keselowski took away the lead after winning the next week at Dover.

If Johnson can buck these trends and widen his points lead at Texas, he’ll be well on his way to a sixth championship, which would leave him just one behind a couple Hall of Famers -- Richard Petty and Dale Earnhardt -- for the most in series history.

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