Season finish: 11th
2014 Season Stats: 4 Wins, 11 Top-5s, 20 Top-10s, 1 Pole.
What went right: After going winless in the first 11 races, Johnson returned to his familiar dominance with a victory in the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte and followed that the next week with another triumph at Dover. Two weeks later, he finally conquered Michigan, a track that had not been one of his best. After such a stellar display, you had to think that things were returning to normal for Johnson and for NASCAR, really. But as it turned out…
What went wrong: …Johnson and his No. 48 Hendrick Motorsports team couldn’t keep their form. An ugly five-race summer stretch (42nd at Daytona, 42nd at New Hampshire, 14th at Indy, 39th at Pocono, 28th at Watkins Glen) again fired up questions of what was going wrong with the champions. In 2013, Johnson hit a rough patch going into the Chase but still won his sixth Sprint Cup in the end. However, he couldn’t replicate that in 2014 and was bounced in the Contender Round. Johnson rallied for a fourth win of the season at Texas but that was buried by teammate Jeff Gordon’s post-race fight with Brad Keselowski in the pits.
2015 Prospectus: With the problems that Team 48 had in 2014, there was chatter regarding a possible breakup of the successful partnership between Johnson and crew chief Chad Knaus. But both men have shot those rumors down. Now, after struggling to ‘solve” the 2014 rules package that admittedly did not fit Johnson’s driving style, the duo and their squad must make sure that doesn’t happen again with the 2015 package.