The Herald Bulletin

June 11, 2013

Ken de la Bastide: Johnson continues stellar season


The Herald Bulletin

---- — Five-time Sprint Cup champion Jimmie Johnson continued his stellar season with his third win of the year at Pocono this past weekend, dominating most of the race.

Johnson really should have four wins in points races, throwing away an opportunity at Dover the week before by jumping a restart and then failing to yield the top spot to Juan Pablo Montoya. It’s about the only mistake the team has made in 2013.

Throw in Johnson’s victory in the All-Star race at Charlotte and Johnson has four wins. He has now built up a 51-point lead over Carl Edwards.

In addition to his three wins, Johnson has recorded nine top-10 finishes through 14 races, with only teammate Dale Earnhardt Jr. matching that number. It was the 63rd win of his Sprint Cup career.

Matt Kenseth, in his first year with Joe Gibbs Racing, has also recorded three wins and seven top-10 finishes.

The real question is will Johnson continue to roll through the regular season before the Chase for the Championship begins? Johnson appears to be marching toward a sixth Sprint Cup championship.

With the series traveling to Michigan this weekend, a track known for fuel mileage racing, it would be hard not to expect the Lowe’s team to be in contention for another victory.

I like the Michigan oval, but with fuel mileage almost always determining the race winner, the racing has become boring.

Fuel strategy will be the key factor in the race with a safe assumption that several teams will gamble on stretching every mile from a gallon of fuel. I suspect the winner will be one of the Roush-Fenway drivers, because the team has a knack for stretching fuel at the Michigan oval.

What is surprising thus far in the season is the fact that the Roush-Fenway team has scored only one victory, with Carl Edwards accomplishing the feat.

Gibbs Racing has five wins, three by Kenseth and two by Kyle Busch. It is followed by Hendrick Motorsports with four, three by Johnson and one by Kasey Kahne. Childress Racing is next, with Kevin Harvick recording two victories.

The IZOD IndyCar series heads to the famed Milwaukee Mile this weekend, and it should produce the best racing of the weekend. The "Mile" is known for tight racing, and with IndyCar producing new winners on almost a weekly basis it should be an interesting show on Saturday.

Penske driver Helio Castroneves is looking for his first IndyCar championship and has a 22-point lead over Marco Andretti after his fourth career win in Texas.

Since neither Dario Franchitti or Scott Dixon have won in 2013 for the Target/Ganassi team, I suspect one of these two drivers will be pulling into victory lane.

•In other racing news: Anderson Speedway is honoring active and retired members of the Armed Forces on Friday, Flag Day. Active and retired members of the military will be admitted free for the show which starts at 8 p.m. with the International Outlaw Figure-8 Series in action for a 50-lap feature.

The H.O.S.S. winged sprints will be at the track on Saturday for a 40-lap feature. Racing starts at 8 p.m.