Sunday, April 9, 2017

Johnson rules Texas again

As things unfolded Sunday afternoon at Texas Motor Speedway for the O'Reilly Auto Parts 500, there were enough unknowns brought on by a new pavement and reconfiguration that would even baffle Sherlock Holmes.

Even with all the wonder and worry about how the drivers would handle the new surface, Jimmie Johnson proved there's no substitute for experience.

Johnson earned another six-shooter and cowboy hat after his impressive performance in winning at Texas. Not only was it his seventh victory at the track, but it was the 81st of his amazing career.

The legend is growing, probably along with the love-hate relationship most race fans have. It's clear when the numbers get broken down how special Johnson is right now in NASCAR history.

-He has 81 wins in 550 career starts. That's one every 6.8 times Johnson gets in a race car. 

-He hasn't won less than twice in any of his 17 seasons in Cup. His last five years have had five, six, four, five and five checkered flags.

At this rate, it's likely Johnson will pass Cale Yarborough (83), Darrell Waltrip and Bobby Allison (both 84) before the end of 2017. That only leaves Jeff Gordon's 93, David Pearson's 105, and Richard Petty's untouchable 200 on the career wins list.

Oh, and Johnson doesn't turn 42 years old until September. Depending on how his health holds out, joining Pearson and Petty in the century win club may be a serious talking point within the next five years.

Right now, Johnson is averaging five wins per year, so you do the math.

And the winningest active driver behind Johnson right now? Matt Kenseth and Kyle Busch have 38 victories through Sunday's race at Texas. That's how much he's head and shoulders above everyone else.

Call him vanilla, call him too corporate for your taste, but just don't call Jimmie Johnson late to Victory Lane. When his career is all said and done, it'll be one every fan -- hater or not -- can step back and appreciate.

Follow Tom Zulewski on Twitter @TommyZee81 or email

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