18 October 2011

Is Jimmie Johnson's 6th Straight Cup Title Hunt Over?

Heading into Charlotte Motor Speedway, the fifth race in the 2011 Chase for the Sprint Cup, Jimmie Johnson had had an inconsistent Chase. He had two average finishes and after two races was tenth in the standings. But he followed that up with a runner-up finish at Dover and a victory at Kansas and he was sitting in third in the standings, looking like he will continue his run for a sixth straight title. But with about 18 laps to go, at a track Johnson was once so dominant at, he crashed hard into the wall and his day was done with a 34th place finish. Now that he sits in eighth in the points with five races to go and 35 points behind the leader Carl Edwards, does he have any chance to rally and win yet another title?
Well the one thing we have learned during Johnson's dominance is to never count him out. He has rallied before after poor starts to the Chase to claim the title and he is still arguable the best driver in the series. But he is going to need a lot of luck to come back from this deficit, which is the largest he's had to potentially overcome this late in the Chase. And considering how consistent Edwards has been, Kevin Harvick running especially well and Matt Kenseth coming in hot after winning at Charlotte on Saturday.
Johnson has some strong tracks for him still on the schedule, such as Martinsville (six wins), Texas (9.9 average finish), and Phoenix (four wins) but the ultimate wild card is this weekend's race at Talladega. Johnson is not the best racer at Talladega but with a strong run and if a big wreck takes out some of the leaders in the standings, he can be in business. But if he gets taken out in a wreck on Sunday, his chance are all but over.
So all in all, I wouldn't bet on Johnson rallying but I also would not count him out either though. But he does have a nice mountain to climb now.

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