Jimmie Johnson admits he’s still learning

DOVER, DELAWARE - APRIL 27: Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #84 Dollar Tree/Family Dollar Toyota, walks the grid during qualifying for the NASCAR Cup Series Würth 400 at Dover International Speedway on April 27, 2024 in Dover, Delaware. (Photo by James Gilbert/Getty Images)

Seven-time NASCAR Cup Series champion and NASCAR Hall of Famer Jimmie Johnson confirmed this week he will compete in back-to-back events for the first time since he retired from fulltime NASCAR competition in 2020 – Sunday’s race at Dover and then next week at Kansas Speedway. Johnson has a record 11 victories at the concrete Dover mile and is a three-time winner at Kansas.

Yet even with all that success, the 48-year old Johnson concedes he’s still learning this NextGen race car with finishes of 28th (Daytona) and 29th (Texas) in his only other 2024 starts in the No. 84 Toyota. He competed only three times in 2023 with a best finish of 31st coming in the Daytona 500 – a race he’s won twice.

“It’s just so different,” Johnson said of the new car compared to the ones he drove to 83 wins and the record-tying seven titles. “I realized that quickly at Texas. I have a few wins at Texas that didn’t carry in. It is really on me. It is such a different environment as a driver and to spot these drivers in the garage, a two-year head-start on the little nuances that you need from the prep side on a Tuesday, all the way to the completion on a Monday when you debrief and work through it all.

“There is just a lot of distance to make up and first and foremost, I need to do my part and get in tune with this car. Through this stretch, I will be able to do so.”

Johnson last raced at Dover in 2020 with finishes of seventh and third place. His earned the last win of his career there in 2017. He will start 27th Sunday.