On the heels of J.J.'s second DNF in the last three races, is it time we send out a search party for the lucky charm
With J.J. second in the points standings, it may seem a little premature to hit the panic button, but there are concerns. After winning three of the first five races, including his first career victory at Bristol, and opening the new spoiler era with three straight top 10s, Johnson has seemingly faded, the spoiler appearing to become
What has made matters worse, is that while Johnson has drifted back, the biggest threats to his fifth-straight title have caught fire, with
In 2007, Johnson crashed out in back-to-back races at Chicago and Indianapolis, but followed those early exits by posting 13 finishes of seventh or better over the next 16 races, including six wins. In '09, he was 30th and 36th at Talladega and Richmond, respectively, but rebounded with two wins and five more top-10s in nine races.
How will Johnson respond this time? Luck appears to have left his side, but the schedule gods are still smiling upon him. The next two tracks (Dover and Charlotte) are among J.J.'s best, having seen the No. 48 in Victory Lane a combined 11 times, and he'll be going for a third straight win at the Monster Mile on Sunday, having swept both races last season after leading 569 of 800 laps.
While Johnson has struggled and his top contenders have shown they've risen above their past limitations, the next two points races could swing Johnson from a semi-slump to reaffirming his status as NASCAR's current king.
But should Johnson and
But while the rest of the Toyota family is rising, the driver who at one point in the season led all Camry wheelmen in the standings has faded. After a top-10 day at Atlanta,
It's always worth watching how the Red Bull Racing drivers perform against fellow Toyota drivers, because as one person close to the situation told me: while the other teams work in conjunction with Toyota Racing Development engineers, Red Bull, citing its Formula One success, is adamant about working on its own. That's obviously hurting Speed, whose only outside source of information is teammate Vickers, but we all know that no driver is going to completely share every shred of info. In Speed's case, Red Bull's arrogance may be hurting him. Were the team willing to work closer with TRD, it might find out the winning combination Joe Gibbs Racing and Michael Waltrip Racing have discovered.