Jimmie Johnson admits it has been feast or famine for him in the Daytona 500 of late.
The five-time NASCAR Sprint Cup champion won the race in 2006, but since then he’s endured a series of setbacks. He has a top finish of 27th in the six races since that time.
Three of those six races at Daytona International Speedway ended with a DNF – and last year’s ended after just one lap.
He’s hoping for better luck for this Sunday’s race at noon ET on FOX.
“The 500 has been tough,” Johnson said. “I’ve won (Budweiser) Duels, I’ve won the Shootout, we’ve been here in July and been very competitive and finished in the top three, but the 500 — it’s been a trophy and I might have a 10th or something. My memory says a lot of DNFs. Last year was about as bad as it gets, leading the first lap and crashing; that wasn’t a good one. We’ll hopefully make 2.7 miles this year before anything happens.”
Still, Johnson is keeping a positive attitude. Overall, restrictor-plate racing has been one of his tough spots. He has only two top-10 finishes overall at Daytona since that win. At Talladega Superspeedway he has fared better, with a win in 2011.
As he looks at this style of racing, Johnson plans to just keep working to get better.
“It’s such a balance, too, because one win and you’re in Victory Lane and it’s the coolest rush,” he said. “You’re gambling the whole race. When it hits it’s a lot like hitting it at the casino. The rush is amazing, but it’s a different kind of racing and . . . especially for the 48 team, we’ve had a lot of torn up race cars lately and it’s starting to get a little old. We’ll keep racing, we’ll keep building cars and be out there trying to get all the points we can.”