DOVER, Del. – On a rainy morning at Dover International Speedway, Jimmie Johnson was hopeful lightning wouldn’t strike twice—figuratively speaking, of course.
A year ago, in the third race in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup, the failure of a rear-axle seal eliminated the six-time series champion from NASCAR’s 10-race playoff.
Never mind that Johnson has owned the Monster Mile with 10 victories in 29 starts. Last year’s 41st-place finish in the Chase race reminded the Dover dominator that freakish bad luck can strike at any time and dramatically change the course of a season.
But that doesn’t mitigate Johnson’s eagerness to reverse his 2015 ill fortune.
“I’m excited to be back to my best race track, without a doubt,” Johnson said on Friday morning at the one-mile concrete track. “I think last year shows that you really can’t count on a race track always being kind to a driver or always working in their favor.
“It’s part of racing. I’ve learned it through many different lessons over my racing career. Last year, I think, kind of showed everybody once again that you just can’t take a race or a track for granted for anybody. We’re back with high hopes.”
Currently eighth in the Chase standings, Johnson remains within striking distance of both Jamie McMurray and Austin Dillon, who are tied for the 13th position, 18 points behind the driver of the No. 48 Chevrolet.
Nevertheless, Johnson should be able to advance to the Chase’s Round of 12 with a respectable finish in Sunday’s Citizen Soldier 400 (2 p.m. ET on NBCSN).