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Johnson, like other greats, not immune to losing streaks

Jeff Birchfield • Aug 15, 2018 at 11:14 PM

Jimmie Johnson can take some solace that he's in good company.

The seven-time NASCAR champion is mired in the worst slump of his racing career, with 46 races since his last win at Dover in June 2017.

Looking at it from a historical perspective, Johnson is no different from Darrell Waltrip, Dale Earnhardt, Jeff Gordon and even Richard Petty.

Johnson's win at Dover was the 83rd of his career, tying him with his boyhood hero Cale Yarborough for sixth on the Monster Energy Cup Series all-time win list.

Heading into this season, the 42-year-old Johnson had won at least three races per season every year of his Cup Series career.

There is even more motivation for Johnson to end the streak at Bristol Motor Speedway. For all the great accomplishments in his career, the one race still not on his resume is the Bass Pro Shops NRA Night Race.

Johnson has two wins in the Food City 500 at Bristol, but he's never won the August race.

But the look at some of the other struggles of NASCAR greats starts with a current FOX television analyst.

DARRELL WALTRIP

The three-time champion holds the all-time BMS record with 12 Cup Series victories. He was the most successful driver of the 1980s with three championships and 57 wins.

Waltrip capped off the decade with six wins in 1989, including the Daytona 500. But the success came to a halt in 1990, with Waltrip breaking his leg in a crash at the Daytona race in July.

It led to the first winless full-time season in Waltrip's career. He had a bounce back with five wins in 1991 and 1992, but those were his last victories before retiring in 2000.

DALE EARNHARDT

Earnhardt won five of his seven NASCAR championships from 1980-91, but the 1992 season turned out to be a struggle for the Richard Childress Racing team. The team's only victory came in the 1992 Coca-Cola 600 with Earnhardt's next-best finish, a second to Waltrip at the August night race.

The driver nicknamed "The Intimidator" bounced back for his final two championships in 1993-94 and he added seven more wins over the next two seasons.

But Earnhardt suffered a broken collarbone in a 1996 crash at Talladega and went through the first winless season of his career in 1997.

Earnhardt scored the biggest win of his career in the 1998 Daytona 500, but that was his only win before coming back strong the next two years before his fatal crash at the 2001 Daytona 500.

JEFF GORDON

Johnson's mentor, Gordon, broke a long winless streak at the 2002 Bristol night race by using the bump-and-run tactic on Rusty Wallace. Although the four-time champion would never win another series title, he still won multiple races through the 2007 season.

After 2007, Gordon had 81 wins and appeared on his way to challenging David Pearson's record of 105 wins, second most in the Cup Series.

But Gordon struggled driving NASCAR's Car of Tomorrow and suffered the first winless season of his career. He won just one race in 2009 and had another winless season in 2010. He finished with 93 wins for his career.

RICHARD PETTY

Petty dominated the sport like no one else through the 1960s and the first half of the 1970s. Even "The King" couldn't overcome the aerodynamically challenged Dodge Magnum, suffering the first winless season of his career in 1978.

He followed with five wins and a record seventh Cup Series championship in 1979. Three years later, Petty had another winless season, although he recorded five runner-up finishes.

Petty won five more races over his career, including his historic 200th win in the 1984 Firecracker 400 with President Ronald Reagan in attendance. However, he never won again in a career that ended in 1992.

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