2011 Stats: Points Finish 6th, 2 Wins, 14 Top Fives, 21 Top Tens, Average Running Position 12.1, Average Finish 11.9, Laps Led 1,115, Driver Rating 99.1
2011 was Jimmie Johnson’s worst year in the series by many respects. Last season he only had two wins and he finished sixth in the points standings. Both of those marks were career worsts. 2011 is over and good things are in store for Jimmie Johnson this year.
In 2012 ifantasyrace.com mock drafts Jimmie Johnson is the top pick in two of the four drafts (mock draft 4.0 and mock draft 2.0). I believe come Chase time Jimmie Johnson will be the consensus favorite to win the 2012 championships.
Strengths- Jimmie Johnson is the complete driver who can win on any track type. What takes him to the next level is his intangibles. He may very well be the best clutch performer in NASCAR history. When he needs to get up on the wheel and get the job done, he gets it done.
When you talk about strengths for Jimmie Johnson you can’t overlook his crew chief Chad Knaus. Is there any debate he’s not the best crew chief in the series? These two have been together since 2002 and it’s worked out pretty good. This year I think Chad Knaus will be more motivated than ever and that’s bad news for the competition.
Another strength of his is the Hendrick organization. Their the Yankees of NASCAR. They have the biggest budget and always compete for the championship. Hendrick is the only four car organization in NASCAR and his teammates (Dale Earnhardt Jr. , Jeff Gordon and Kasey Kahne) will all help make him that much better.
Weaknesses- One weakness of the 48 team is that when momentum isn’t on their side their results can be quite stagnant. If their in a cold streak it’s best not to pick him until it passes.
Like many drivers restrictor plate tracks are often cruel to Jimmie Johnson.
Intermediate Track Grade- A, Last season Jimmie Johnson scored the 5th most points on this track type. Year in and year out he’s always among the top scorers on this track type. These races comprise 17 of the 36 races and his strength on this track type is why he’s a five time champion.
Johnson is strong on all of the sub groups on this track type. He’s fast on the skill intermediates, the cookie cutters and the big 2.0 mile tracks. He’s the only driver who doesn’t drive a Ford who is continually a top tier elite driver at these venues.
Flat Track Grade- A, Johnson is an elite driver at both the big and the short flat tracks. He has five wins on the big’s (3 at Indy and 2 at Pocono) and seven wins on the shorts (4 at Phoenix & 3 at New Hampshire).
Indy has historically been a “hit or miss track” for him. He either wins (3 of 4 top tens were wins) or he has really bad days. The average finish of his non top ten days was 28.6. The contrast between his good days and bad days is pretty alarming to me.
Pocono is a great track for JJ and he takes full advantage of his Hendrick horsepower. Last year he finished 4th in both races. In the last nine races he’s finished in the top ten seven times and his worst finish in this span is 13th.
Typically Johnson clinches his championships at Phoenix. I think the new track layout is a disadvantage for him because he was so dominant on the old one. Prior to the Phoenix face lift he had twelve straight top seven finishes (including four wins). Last fall on the new track layout he finished 14th.
Johnson is always near the front of the pack at New Hampshire. He’s a three-time winner and his 10.1 average finish is second to only Denny Hamlin.
Restrictor Plate Track Grade- B, Last season Jimmie Johnson won the spring Talladega race. That win was rather surprising because he typically has problems in that race. From a fantasy NASCAR perspective I only like Johnson in the fall Talladega race because his non racing strategy works out good for him (didn’t work out good for him last year because he was racing).
Since his 2006 Daytona 500 win he’s only finished in the top ten once and his average finish since then is 25.2. His last four finishes have all been 20th or worse.
Short Track Grade- A, Jimmie Johnson is solid at all three short tracks. On occasion he’s had dominant performances at all three.
At Martinsville his success in the 2000′s is unrivaled. In that decade he only finished outside the top ten once and that was in his first start at NASCAR’s oldest track. Johnson has six career wins here and last fall he could’ve made it 7 but he chose not to race Tony Stewart hard at the end.
Bristol hasn’t always been a good track for Jimmie Johnson but since 2009 he’s been as good as anyone. In these last six races he’s won one race, finished in the top ten five times and led +75 laps each race. That’s pretty good in my book.
Jimmie Johnson has also been really good at Richmond as of late. When you look at his recent stats remember to overlook his fall 2011 race because Kurt Busch went out of his way to make sure the 48 team had a bad day. In the four prior races he finished 8th, 3rd, 10th and 11th. Johnson has three wins at Richmond.
Road Course Track Grade- A-, In past years people thought the Chase could be “Jimmie Proofed” if a road course was placed in the playoffs. Johnson killed that argument with a regular season win at Infineon in 2010. Last season on road courses he finished 7th at Infineon and 10th at Watkins Glen.
How to use Jimmie Johnson from a Fantasy NASCAR Perspective in 2012? Johnson is such a good driver he can be used on any given weekend. Since he’s so good I think it’s best to list the tracks I would recommend you don’t use him on: Daytona, Charlotte (equal rate of good / bad finishes lately), Indy (risk/reward level to high), and the spring Talladega race.