NASCAR: Predicting which tracks Jimmie Johnson will race at in 2023

INDIANAPOLIS, INDIANA - JULY 29: Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Carvana Chip Ganassi Racing Honda, looks on during practice for NTT IndyCar Series Gallagher Grand Prix at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on July 29, 2022 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Logan Riely/Getty Images)

Seven-time NASCAR Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson will be returning to the sport in 2023. Johnson’s return has fans wondering what tracks he might compete at.

Jordan Bianchi of The Athletic reported this week that Jimmie Johnson is finalizing a deal to take an ownership stake in Petty GMS Organization in 2023. Bianchi also reported that Johnson will drive in select races for the team. Johnson has not competed in the NASCAR Cup Series since his retirement in 2020. Johnson’s return to NASCAR will give the legend a chance to add to his career win total, which currently sits at 83 (tied for 6th all-time). Johnson’s next win will move him into a three-way tie with Bobby Allison and Darrell Waltrip for 4th all-time. Should Johnson win twice, he will own 4th-place by himself, trailing only Jeff Gordon (93), David Pearson (105), and Richard Petty (200).

 

Johnson will likely be selective in his return, only choosing events in which he believes he will find success. Let’s take a look at the six tracks Johnson should consider the most when he returns to NASCAR next season.

Dover Motor Speedway

Jimmie Johnson has won more times at Dover Motor Speedway than any other track in the NASCAR Cup Series. Johnson’s 11 wins at Dover are the most of any driver in the track’s history. Richard Petty (7 wins) is second all-time and the closest active drivers to Johnson’s 11 wins are Kevin Harvick, Kyle Busch, and Martin Truex Jr. (3 wins).

If Johnson wants to add to his win total in 2023, Dover should be one of the first races that he pencils in. In 38 races at Dover, Johnson has 11 wins, 18 top-fives, and 27 top-10s. Johnson has also led more laps (3,113) at Dover than any other track in the series.

Auto Club Speedway

Johnson has accomplished a lot at Dover in his career, but his overall consistency has truly been on display at Auto Club Speedway. Johnson’s average finishing position at Auto Club Speedway is 7.6, nearly two spots better than the next closest track. In addition to his consistency, Auto Club might make the cut since it is Johnson’s hometown track.

In 26 races, Johnson has six wins, 13 top-fives, and 18 top-10 finishes. Johnson is also only 10 laps shy of leading 1,000 laps in his career at Auto Club. Johnson has led at least 1,000 laps at only four other tracks in the NASCAR Cup Series (Dover, Martinsville, Charlotte, and Texas).

Martinsville Speedway

If you had to pick another track in Johnson’s career that is on par with Dover and Auto Club, it would be Martinsville Speedway. Johnson has won nine times at Martinsville, second only to Dover. Johnson has led 2,932 laps at Martinsville, also second only to Dover. Martinsville is also one of four tracks (minimum of 10 starts) in the Cup Series in which Johnson’s career average finish is better than 10th place.

When it comes to short-track racing, Martinsville is the logical choice for Johnson. Although he has won in his career at Bristol, it has been Martinsville where he has shown dominance.

Daytona International Speedway

Racing at Daytona is a crapshoot, all NASCAR fans know and understand this. Daytona is also home to two of the biggest races of the year. With that in mind, it’s hard to imagine Johnson not wanting to have one more shot at winning the Daytona 500, or at Dayton in general.

Johnson owns three victories at Daytona, but the allure of winning another 500 might be too much to pass up in the end. Even more, the nature of Daytona means that Johnson could win without having to have the best car on the track. Winning the Daytona 500 would also be a nice feather in the proverbial cap as a Cup Series team owner.

Watkins Glen International or Chicago Speedway

The last two tracks on this list are here because they could easily be considered two things that Jimmie Johnson might feel he needs to accomplish. Johnson has never won at either of these tracks in his career, he is 0-18 at both. At every other track that Johnson has started at least 18 races, he has at least one win.

Despite not winning at either, Johnson has had success at Chicago. In those 18 starts, Johnson has 12 top-10 finishes and eight top-fives. Johnson’s average finishing position of 9.3 at Chicago is the second-best of his career. Johnson has literally done everything at Chicago, except win.

Watkins Glen on the other hand has not been as kind. In 18 starts at the Glen, Johnson only has eight top-10 finishes. Of the 1,518 laps run at Watkins Glen, Johnson has only led 18 laps, the fewest of any track in the Cup Series. While competing at Watkins Glen might be the biggest challenge of any other track on this list, winning there might also be the most rewarding for a driver that has accomplished nearly everything that there is to accomplish in this sport.

Featured Image Credit: Logan Riely/Getty Images