A trio of reasons Jimmie Johnson can win third Daytona 500
A two-time Daytona 500 winner, Jimmie Johnson seems to be the driver of feast or famine when it comes to The Great American Race.
While Johnson owns a pair of 500 wins — in 2006 and 2013 — his full body of work in NASCAR’s premier event isn’t exactly stellar, thanks to a number of crashes and just overall bad racing luck.
Nevertheless, the six-time Sprint Cup champ will be a force to be reckoned with in Sunday’s 57th running of the 500, and here are three reasons why he could wind up in Victory Lane:
1. The Chad Factor
After locking down a starting spot on the outside of the front row alongside teammate Jeff Gordon, Johnson went out and won his 150-mile Budweiser Duel qualifying race in convincing fashion.
If Johnson and Knaus can avoid bickering over the in-car radio, which they had a tendency to do late last year as Johnson struggled to be his usual dominant self — the driver and crew chief have an excellent opportunity to celebrate together late Sunday evening.
2. Poise Under Pressure
No driver in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series is cooler under pressure than Johnson. How else can you explain his six championships, which have all been won under the ultra-intense Chase format?
While Johnson might be best known for being at his best late in the season when the title is on the line, he has a penchant for staying calm and collected in a variety of situations.
No race the entire season tests a driver’s poise and mental stamina more than the Daytona 500, which creates a natural environment in which Johnson can thrive.
If he’s in the hunt for the win in the final laps of Sunday’s race, bet against the 48 at your own risk. You might regret it.
3. So Hungry
Coming off a season in which he won "only" four races and finished a career-worst 11th in the standings, Johnson is eager to return to top form.
There’s no more fitting venue for him to do so than the Daytona 500 — NASCAR’s grandest stage and ultimate crown-jewel event.