Season Recap: Jimmie Johnson
By Dominic Aragon
December 6, 2016
2016 will be the season Jimmie Johnson tied Richard Petty and the late Dale Earnhardt for most championships in NASCAR’s Premiere Series at seven.
Johnson’s win in the season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway secured his 80th career win in the series, marking his seventh championships in 11 seasons. Petty won his seven championships in a 16 year span, Earnhardt in a 15 year span.
Johnson became the second winner in 2016 with his victory at Atlanta Motor Speedway in February, the second race on the schedule. The victory tied Dale Earnhardt for eighth on the all-time win list at 76.
His 77th career victory at Auto Club Speedway in March moved Johnson to seventh all-time on the wins list.
Johnson next won at Charlotte Motor Speedway in October, ending a 24-race winless streak, the longest of his Premier Series career.
Scoring a total of five victories, Johnson had the most wins among the competition in the Premiere Series in 2016.
Johnson won three times during the Chase, the most of any driver.
Johnson extends his streak of at least one win per season to 15, claiming victory at least twice per season every year he has raced full-time in the series. Richard Petty’s record stands at 18 consecutive seasons.
With Johnson making the Chase, he made his 13th appearance, the only driver to make NASCAR’s playoffs every season since its inception in 2004.
Of his seven championships, 2016 marks Johnson’s lowest numbers in several categories among championship-winning seasons, including laps led (737), top-five finishes (11), top-10 finishes (16) and lead lap finishes (26).
2016 also marks the first time in Johnson’s Premier Series career he did not score at least 20 top-10 finishes, ending a 14-year streak of doing so; a NASCAR Premier Series record.
Quotes from 2016
Post-race Atlanta Motor Speedway (won race; tied Dale Earnhardt)
“I entered the sport just hoping I could win a race and keep a job for a few years, and to have 76 [wins] and tie Dale Earnhardt Sr. is something I'm very, very proud of.
“I didn't have a chance to race against him, unfortunately, but today, there's been a big void in my mind about not having that chance to race against him, and it was literally a handful of months away from having that opportunity.
“So to tie him today, for myself personally, it gives me a little something; it's a little bit of attachment to the great Dale Earnhardt and something I'm very proud of.”
Post-race Auto Club Speedway (won race)
“I feel like physically and mentally I'm the best that I've ever been in my career. I'm in a great space and really enjoying going to the race shop, going to the racetrack, working with my team. So I'm in the space I want to be in, which tells me it makes me want to stick around and do this for a lot of years.
“There's no guarantees about when you're going to win and have success. I've been very, very fortunate to win 77 of these things, which blows my mind on its own.
“It's easy to look at trends and say we win ‘X’ a year, but at some point that stops, that stops for everybody. I don't know when that point is for me. I certainly hope it's not soon. I would love to get to Jeff. But you never know.”
Post-race Richmond International Raceway II (finished 11th, qualified for Chase)
“We had a decent result, definitely not a clean race, but I don't think anybody did. I don't think anybody did.
“We've got to get better. There's no doubt about it. Inside of our walls at Hendrick Motorsports we know we're getting better, we know we're bringing a better product to the track.
“We're showing it at times, we've just got to show it consistently and finish in the top-five consistently, and that will lead to opportunities to win, and hopefully the big trophy at the end of the year.”
Post-race Martinsville Speedway (won race, clinched spot in Round of 4)
“Obviously an amazing way to finish the day, get a win here, get our ninth clock.
“To win at Martinsville in the fall, from the Hendrick Motorsports side is a very meaningful victory for us. So a lot of emotions are all coming together.
“Obviously the bright spot and the shiny spot in all this is we've got a shot at a championship. So we're fired up and ready to go. Very, very excited for the next couple weeks. Certainly ready to go to Homestead and race, race for this thing.”
Post-race Homestead-Miami Speedway (won race, championship)
“Wow. Just overwhelmed. I mean, I had this crazy weird calmness through the last couple of weeks and then even through the race amongst all the chaos we dealt with, and the fact that we ran like behind those guys all night long, fifth, sixth, wherever we ran, there was just some calmness that was in me, and then we restart and the 22 and the 19 wreck, and I'm like, ‘Oh, okay, we've got a shot at this thing.’ I don't know why I've been so calm, but maybe it's in the cards.
“The next restart works out well, we get the second, and I'm like, ‘You've got to be kidding me.’
“There's really a shot at this thing. Then I get the restart of my life at the end and I get clear off of Turn 2, and it just all like; I got the goosebumps down backstretch. I'm like, ‘You've got to be kidding me.’ I looked in the mirror and the 22 is fading, and I don't know where that calmness came from.
“I mean, I want to say that the dedication of the #se7en to Little Ricky, there's something in all of that. But there was just something really interesting and different about my calmness and the relaxed nature that I had in the car.
“I didn't know what the outcome would be, but I was very content and peaceful with whatever was coming my way, and then it ended up being the greatest thing in the world. So it's just wild.” Thanks to: Racing-Reference.info NASCAR Media Ford Performance Team Chevy Toyota Racing