Jimmie Johnson finding form just in time for Texas

Posted Monday, Oct. 29, 2012  comments  Print Reprints

Jimmie Johnson at Texas

Wins: 1

Top 5s: 8

Top 10s: 13

Average finish: 9.7 in 18 races

Average running position: 11.7 (fifth best)

Driver rating: 100.6 (fourth best)

Have more to add? News tip? Tell us

Jimmie Johnson knows how to win on the half-mile track at Martinsville Speedway.

He knows how to win a Sprint Cup championship.

Both facts were in clear evidence Sunday.

The five-time champion displayed his mastery of the short track -- using the 500 laps to learn about his car, understand his competition, get out of the way or go for the lead -- in winning the Tums Fast Relief 500 and taking the lead in the Chase for the Sprint Cup.

"We're getting smarter and better. We did what we needed to today, for sure," he said after the victory, his seventh at Martinsville, in advance of this weekend's AAA Texas 500 at Texas Motor Speedway.

"I think a true testament to Jimmie is the way he can go out there and manage the race, even if we're not leading, fall back if we need to for a little bit, then he's able to charge back up after he gets his groove and some of the other guys burn their tires off," crew chief Chad Knaus said. "Jimmie's experience came into play today, maybe more so than we've seen in the Chase so far.

"That's pretty impressive, to be able to come back from the race car we had, where he could have easily pushed the car too hard, burned up the brakes, blown a right front tire, and he had the wherewithal not to do that."

The idea that Johnson's No. 48 Chevrolet team is getting smarter and better might be hard to imagine.

He won five straight championships from 2006 to 2010, and he was sixth last year.

But it is hard to argue against the idea.

He has been second, second, fourth, 17th, third, ninth and first in the seven Chase races. Only the craziness of the final lap at Talladega prevented a better finish than 17th.

But when he came out of that mess still in second in the points standings, his path to a sixth championship in seven years seemed more clear than ever.

He would be good at Charlotte -- he always is -- good at Kansas -- a mile-and-a-half track -- and good at Martinsville.

He wound up third at Charlotte, where he won the All-Star race in the summer, ninth at Kansas despite a car that needed constant repair, and then won at Martinsville.

First in the points.

Mission accomplished.

"We need every point we can get -- we got almost every one this weekend, so that's cool," Johnson said. "We just race hard. Texas is a total opposite from a setup standpoint than what we have here, demands on the car, the way you drive. We'll take whatever mental momentum and confidence that today's race brings us."

The AAA Texas 500 at Texas Motor Speedway on Sunday is another mile-and-a-half race where Johnson can be good. He has only one career win at Fort Worth, but he can win here. Even if he doesn't, he has four wins at Phoenix, the next stop.

"We have to be the best to be the champions," Johnson said. "I think we're showing we're in form and ready to do that."

Not so hard to imagine right now.

Carlos Mendez, 817-390-7407

Twitter: @calexmendez

Looking for comments?

We welcome your comments on this story, but please be civil. Do not use profanity, hate speech, threats, personal abuse, images, internet links or any device to draw undue attention. Our policy requires those wishing to post here to use their real identity.

Our commenting policy | Facebook commenting FAQ | Why Facebook?

Wednesday, August 20Full Scoreboard
Texas 8/20 12:40 PM ET
Seattle 8/20 1:05 PM ET
Philadelphia TV: ROOT-NW, CSN-PHI
Toronto 8/20 2:10 PM ET
Milwaukee TV: MLB Network, SNET-1
NY Mets 8/20 3:35 PM ET
Oakland TV: MLB Net, SNY, CSN-CA
Houston 8/20 7:05 PM ET
Atlanta 8/20 7:05 PM ET
Pittsburgh TV: SPSO, ROOT-PIT
Arizona 8/20 7:05 PM ET
Washington TV: FSN-AZ, MASN
LA Angels 8/20 7:10 PM ET
Boston TV: FSN-W, NESN, ESPN 2
Detroit 8/20 7:10 PM ET
Tampa Bay TV: FSN-DET, Sun Sports
Cincinnati 8/20 7:15 PM ET
St. Louis TV: FSN-OH, FSN-MW
San Francisco 8/20 8:05 PM ET
Chicago Cubs TV: CSN-BA, WCIU
Baltimore 8/20 8:10 PM ET
Chicago WSox TV: MASN 2, CSN-CHI
Cleveland 8/20 8:10 PM ET
Minnesota TV: STO, FSN-N
Kansas City 8/20 8:40 PM ET
Colorado TV: FSN-KC, ROOT-RM
San Diego 8/20 10:10 PM ET
Los Angeles TV: FSN-SD, SNLA, ESPN
Full Scoreboard
Wednesday, August 20Full Scoreboard
No games today
Full Scoreboard
Week 4Full Scoreboard
Pittsburgh 7:30 PM ET
Philadelphia TV: NFL Network, KDKA, 6ABC
Jacksonville 7:30 PM ET
Detroit TV: WXYZ7
Carolina 7:30 PM ET
New England TV: Panthers TV, WBZ
NY Giants 7:30 PM ET
NY Jets TV: CBS 2
Oakland 8:00 PM ET
Green Bay TV: CBS
Chicago 10:00 PM ET
Seattle TV: NFL Net, FOX32, Q13FOX
Tampa Bay 4:30 PM ET
Buffalo TV: NFL Network, WFLA
Tennessee 7:00 PM ET
Atlanta TV: WKRN, CW69
Dallas 7:00 PM ET
Miami TV: KTVT, CBS11, CBS4
Washington 7:30 PM ET
Baltimore TV: NBC4, CSN-DC, WBAL
St. Louis 8:00 PM ET
Cleveland TV: WKYC
New Orleans 8:00 PM ET
Indianapolis TV: CBS
Minnesota 8:00 PM ET
Kansas City TV: KARE 11, KCTV
Houston 9:00 PM ET
San Diego 4:00 PM ET
San Francisco TV: FOX
Cincinnati 8:00 PM ET
Arizona TV: NBC
Full Scoreboard
Wednesday, August 20Full Scoreboard
No games today
Full Scoreboard