Editor’s note: Starting today and running through December 31, we’ll recap the 2017 NASCAR season, including the top-10 finishing drivers in NASCAR Cup, the top-four finishers in the Xfinity Series and the champion in the Camping World Truck Series. We begin the series today with 10th-place Cup finisher Jimmie Johnson.
CREW CHIEF: Chad Knaus
TEAM: Hendrick Motorsports
WINS: 3 (Texas 1, Bristol 1, Dover 1)
LAPS LED: 217
TOP 5s: 4
TOP 10s: 11
WHAT WENT RIGHT: It was a tale of two seasons in one for Johnson. The first half was outstanding, earning three wins in the first 13 races (back-to-back at Texas and Bristol, as well as at Dover). … He also had six top-10 finishes in the first 18 races.
WHAT WENT WRONG: Then came the second half of the season. Johnson struggled through much of the second half of the season. He failed to win even one race in the final 23 races, and if you include his 40th-place finish at Kentucky in the 18th race of the season, had eight finishes of 25th or worse in his last 19 starts. … He made the playoffs but this was not the kind of performance we are used to from the seven-time Cup champ. Things got so bad that he finished the last three races of the season 27th (Texas 2), 39th (Phoenix 2) and Homestead (27th). … Johnson finished the season in 10th place, the third time in the last four seasons that he has finished either 10th or 11th.
WHAT TO EXPECT IN 2018: Expect at least a few changes within the team, most likely on pit road. Also, Johnson will find himself surrounded by three young drivers next season: William Byron, Alex Bowman and Chase Elliott. Will he take on more of a leadership role and how will he race with his new teammates?