After putting together just three top-five results in 2019, Jimmie Johnson already has a pair of top-five results in 2020, and has shown speed that isn’t reflected in his finishing results at other tracks.
While his results have been up and down (including a disqualification in the Coca-Cola 600 that dropped him from runner-up to 40th), he has contended – including nearly winning the opening stage of the first race back at Darlington before a crash just before reaching the green/white checkered.
In the other three races since the break, he has an eighth-place result at Darlington-2, was 11th at Charlotte-2 and then finished third last weekend at Bristol.
The sure-bet first-ballot NASCAR Hall of Famer hasn’t won a race since Dover in June of 2017 – a streak of 104 races without a victory – but nearly every race this season has had his fans thinking that this could be the day that he puts the No. 48 Ally Chevrolet from Hendrick Motorsports back atop the scoring tower at the end of the day.
Their hopes will probably be high again this weekend in Atlanta, where Johnson has five wins – a number that leads all active drivers – most recently back-to-back in 2015 and 2016. He’s finished in the top five in half of his 28 starts at the 1.54-mile circuit and also has 16 top 10s.
Johnson also holds the honor of having started the deepest in the field in a march to victory at Atlanta – winning from the 37th-place starting position in 2015. And leads active drivers with the most runner-up finishes at the track with four (2005, 2006, 2008, 2011).
And he has the backing of an organization that knows how to win at Atlanta – Hendrick Motorsports leads all teams with 14 victories.