Why Jimmie Johnson Is Still Favorite for the 2013 NASCAR Sprint Cup Title

HOMESTEAD, FL - NOVEMBER 16:  Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe's Chevrolet, sits in his car during practice for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 16, 2012 in Homestead, Florida.  (Photo by Todd Warshaw/Getty Images)
Todd Warshaw/Getty Images
Michael GuadalupeFeatured ColumnistNovember 19, 2012

Jimmie Johnson didn't win the Sprint Cup title this Sunday.

The five-time champion saw his title hopes slip away when his car ended up in the garage.  He was at a disadvantage going into Homestead, sitting 20 points behind Brad Keselowski, but he was up front for a portion of the Homestead race and had a legitimate chance to win.

Yes, Johnson suffered from bad luck and saw his Chase hopes end for the second year in a row, but Jimmie Johnson is still a favorite for the 2013 NASCAR Sprint Cup title.

He lost this year, but have we forgotten that Johnson and the 48 team won five championships in a row?  Winning a championship takes both skill and luck.  Johnson's luck ran out this year, but he still has the skill needed to win the championship.

Both Richard Petty and Dale Earnhardt Sr. had times in their careers where they didn't win the championship.  1988 and '89 separated Earnhardt from his 1987 and 1990 title wins.

Petty won the championship in 1967, but didn't win another one until 1971.

Jimmie Johnson is still a favorite for the 2013 NASCAR Sprint Cup title and here's why.

 

One of the Top Drivers

Not all racing fans like Jimmie Johnson's style of driving.  Johnson tends to try to preserve his car, and would take a fifth place finish instead of pushing for the win, like he did in a couple of races in this year's Chase.

Still, Johnson’s style of driving works, regardless of how boring it may seem.  Knowing how to preserve your car for what happens at the end of a race is half the battle in NASCAR.

It's much more than just preserving a car though.

When it comes down to actual racing, Johnson can deliver.  Back when The Chase headed to Texas, Johnson proved just how good he was.  He bumped back and forth with Brad Keselowski and still managed to win the race in the end.

Johnson can also recover from what would set most teams back. Johnson was in a crash at Kansas Motor Speedway and needed to pit several times during a caution flag.  The 48 team managed to salvage the car, and Johnson drove it back up to ninth place.

His style of driving might seem boring, but Jimmie Johnson is clearly one of the top drivers in the Sprint Cup circuit, especially in the Chase.

 

The 48 Team

Besides being one of the top drivers in NASCAR, Johnson also has one of the best crew chiefs in Chad Knaus, and one of the fastest pit crews in NASCAR.

They made a mistake during the last race of the season, but no pit crew is perfect, and Johnson had almost no chance to win the title going into Homestead anyway.

Throughout the season, they have been spot on and helped get Johnson in and out of pit road faster than almost any other driver. 

Add in the power of Hendrick Motor Sports and it's no wonder why Johnson has constantly been a factor in the Chase.

As long as the 48 team can remained intact next season, and Chad Knaus remains the crew chief of the 48, expect Johnson to be a favorite for the Sprint Cup title.

 

The Chase Was Made for Jimmie Johnson

The Chase was made in order to make the end of the NASCAR season more interesting.  It gives the top drivers more of a chance to win the championship.

The majority of the tracks in the Chase are 1.5 mile cookie cutter tracks.  This is the type of track where Jimmie Johnson shines.

Johnson has won a race on basically every type of track, but he is extremely good on 1.5 mile tracks.  With 41 wins on the intermediate tracks, and an average finish of 10.4, clearly Johnson will remain a favorite in the Chase next season.

He has been a factor in the Chase since it debuted in 2004, and will remain a factor long into his career.

As long as NASCAR fills the Chase with intermediate tracks, Jimmie Johnson will always be a favorite.

 

What Doesn't Kill You Makes You Stronger

Jimmie Johnson failed to win the championship this season.  All great drivers deal with setbacks, and this season, along with the last, were setbacks for Johnson and the 48 team.

Still, there is a reason Johnson won five championships in a row.

He is one of the top drivers in NASCAR, and should still be considered the man to beat.  He is one of the top drivers in the NASCAR regular season, and knows what it takes to win the Chase.  The 48 team may have stumbled this season, but expect Johnson to be back next year as a favorite for the 2013 NASCAR Sprint Cup title.

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