Plenty of road racers have made an impact on NASCAR
A stats-based look ahead to the 14th race of the Sprint Cup Series season DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (June 1, 2015) – Below is a look at some of the top statistical performers at Pocono Raceway in Pocono, Pennsylvania going into the Axalta 'We Paint Winners' 400 on June 7. POCONO-SPECIFIC STATISTICS Kurt Busch (No. 41 Haas Automation Chevrolet) · Two wins, 11 top fives, 15 top 10s; one pole · Average finish of 14.7 · Average Running Position of 10.2, second-best · Driver Rating of 105.9, third-best · 332 Fastest Laps Run, second-most · Average Green Flag Speed of 162.733 mph, second-fastest · 2,659 Laps in the Top 15 (77.0%), fourth-most · 774 Quality Passes (passes of cars in the top 15 under green), seventh-most Dale Earnhardt Jr . (No. 88 Nationwide Chevrolet) · Two wins, nine top fives, 13 top 10s; one pole · Average finish of 15.3 · Average Running Position of 14.0, 10th-best · Driver Rating of 92.6, ninth-best · 102 Fastest Laps Run, seventh-most · Average Green Flag Speed of 162.237 mph, eighth-fastest · 2,286 Laps in the Top 15 (63.3%), eighth-most · 727 Quality Passes, 10th-most Carl Edwards (No. 19 ARRIS Toyota) · Two wins, five top fives, eight top 10s · Average finish of 15.5 · Driver Rating of 94.2, eighth-best · 176 Fastest Laps Run, fifth-most · Average Green Flag Speed of 162.224 mph, ninth-fastest · 2,262 Laps in the Top 15 (62.6%), 10th-most · 712 Quality Passes, 11th-most Jeff Gordon (No. 24 AXALTA – PENN STATE Chevrolet) · Six wins, 19 top fives, 31 top 10s; two poles · Average finish of 9.9 · Series-best Average Running Position of 9.9 · Driver Rating of 103.5, fourth-best · 169 Fastest Laps Run, sixth-most · 1,573 Green Flag Passes, 10th-most · Average Green Flag Speed of 162.625 mph, fifth-fastest · Series-high 2,777 Laps in the Top 15 (76.9%) · Series-high 885 Quality Passes Denny Hamlin (No. 11 FedEx Ground Toyota) · Four wins, nine top fives, 12 top 10s; three poles · Average finish of 11.9 · Average Running Position of 10.8, fourth-best · Series-best Driver Rating of 108.3 · Series-high 437 Fastest Laps Run · Series-best Average Green Flag Speed of 162.806 mph · 2,543 Laps in the Top 15 (79.3%), sixth-most · 685 Quality Passes, 12th-most Kevin Harvick (No. 4 Budweiser / Jimmy John’s Chevrolet) · Six top fives, 10 top 10s · Average finish of 13.6 · Average Running Position of 13.7, eighth-best · Driver Rating of 91.9, 11th-best · 1,777 Green Flag Passes, third-most · Average Green Flag Speed of 162.159 mph, 10th-fastest · 2,277 Laps in the Top 15 (63.0%), ninth-most · 789 Quality Passes, sixth-most Jimmie Johnson (No. 48 Lowe's / Jimmie Johnson Foundation Chevrolet) · Three wins, 10 top fives, 17 top 10s; three poles · Average finish of 9.9 · Average Running Position of 10.5, third-best · Driver Rating of 106.9, second-best · 273 Fastest Laps Run, fourth-most · 1,507 Green Flag Passes, 11th-most · Average Green Flag Speed of 162.708 mph, third-fastest · 2,774 Laps in the Top 15 (76.8%), second-most · 861 Quality Passes, fourth-most Kasey Kahne (No. 5 Farmers Insurance Chevrolet) · Two wins, five top fives, eight top 10s; two poles · Average finish of 17.8 · Driver Rating of 92.1, 10th-best · 306 Fastest Laps Run, third-most · 1,643 Green Flag Passes, sixth-most · Average Green Flag Speed of 162.436 mph, sixth-fastest · 2,199 Laps in the Top 15 (60.9%), 11th-most · 804 Quality Passes, fifth-most Brad Keselowski (No. 2 Miller Lite Ford) · One win, three top fives, four top 10s · Average finish of 13.4 · Driver Rating of 90.8, 12th-best · 96 Fastest Laps Run, 10th-most Kyle Larson (No. 42 Target Chevrolet) · One top five, one top 10; one pole · Average finish of 8.0 · Average Running Position of 12.7, seventh-best · Driver Rating of 95.7, sixth-best · Average Green Flag Speed of 162.690 mph, fourth-fastest Ryan Newman (No. 31 Grainger Chevrolet) · One win, nine top fives, 14 top 10s; two poles · Average finish of 11.4 · Average Running Position of 11.4, fifth-best · Driver Rating of 95.4, seventh-best · 1,634 Green Flag Passes, seventh-most · Average Green Flag Speed of 162.135 mph, 11th-fastest · 2,689 Laps in the Top 15 (74.4%), third-most · 883 Quality Passes, second-most Tony Stewart (No. 14 Mobil 1 / Bass Pro Shops Chevrolet) · Two wins, 12 top fives, 22 top 10s; two poles · Average finish of 11.8 · Average Running Position of 12.2, sixth-best · Driver Rating of 97.6, fifth-best · 99 Fastest Laps Run, eighth-most · 1,728 Green Flag Passes, fourth-most · Average Green Flag Speed of 162.319 mph, seventh-fastest · 2,619 Laps in the Top 15 (72.5%), fifth-most · 880 Quality Passes, third-most The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series 2015 Top 16 at Pocono Raceway Driver Races Poles Wins Top Fives Top 10s DNFs Average Finish Driver Rating 1 Kevin Harvick 28 0 0 6 10 2 13.6 91.9 2 Martin Truex Jr . 18 0 0 2 6 0 15.9 80.4 3 Jimmie Johnson 26 3 3 10 17 1 9.9 106.9 4 Joey Logano 12 2 1 2 4 1 16.6 88.9 5 Dale Earnhardt Jr . 30 1 2 9 13 1 15.3 92.6 6 Brad Keselowski 10 0 1 3 4 0 13.4 90.8 7 Jamie McMurray 24 1 0 0 6 3 19.8 73.1 8 Kasey Kahne 22 2 2 5 8 3 17.8 92.1 9 Jeff Gordon 44 2 6 19 31 5 9.9 103.5 10 Aric Almirola 6 0 0 0 0 1 24.0 67.6 11 Matt Kenseth 30 0 0 3 10 1 16.0 86.7 12 Paul Menard 16 0 0 0 2 1 23.1 64.6 13 Ryan Newman 26 2 1 9 14 2 11.4 95.4 14 Denny Hamlin 18 3 4 9 12 2 11.9 108.3 15 Kurt Busch 27 1 2 11 15 5 14.7 105.9 16 Carl Edwards 20 0 2 5 8 1 15.5 94.2 * – Based on last 20 races at Pocono Raceway . Pocono Raceway Data Season Race #: 14 of 36 (06-07-15) Track Size : 2.5-miles Banking/Turn 1 : 14 degrees Banking/Turn 2 : 8 degrees Banking/Turn 3 : 6 degrees Frontstretch Length : 3,740 feet Backstretch Length : 3,055 feet Shortstretch Length : 1,780 feet Race Length : 160 laps / 400 miles Top 10 Driver Ratings at Pocono Denny Hamlin ............................ 108.3 Jimmie Johnson ........................ 106.9 Kurt Busch ................................ 105.9 Jeff Gordon .............................. 103.5 Tony Stewart ............................... 97.6 Kyle Larson ................................ 95.7 Ryan Newman ............................. 95.4 Carl Edwards .............................. 94.2 Dale Earnhardt Jr ........................ 92.6 Kasey Kahne .............................. 92.1 Note: Driver Ratings compiled from 2005-2014 races (20 total) among active drivers at Pocono Raceway . Qualifying/Race Data 2014 pole winner : Denny Hamlin , Toyota 181.415 mph, 49.610 secs., 06-06-14 2014 race winner : Dale Earnhardt Jr ., Chevrolet 139.440 mph, (02:52:07), 06-08-14 Track qualifying record: Kyle Larson , Chevrolet 183.438 mph, 49.610 secs., 08-03-14 Track race record: Jeff Gordon , Chevrolet 145.384 mph, (03:26:21), 06-12-11 At Pocono Raceway : History · Opened in 1968 as a three-quarter-mile track, Pocono Raceway held the first race on the 2.5-mile track in 1971. · The first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race was in 1974 – won by Richard Petty , Dodge, 115.593 mph, 08/04/1974. · The 2.5-mile track was repaved during the fall of 2011. Notebook · There have been 74 NASCAR Sprint Cup races at Pocono Raceway , one race from 1974 through 1981, and two per year since. · 2012 marked the first season the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races at Pocono were scheduled for 400 miles. Prior to 2012 all NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races were 500 miles at Pocono Raceway . · 322 drivers have competed in at least one NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Pocono Raceway ; 229 in more than one. · Ricky Rudd leads the series in starts at Pocono with 55. Jeff Gordon leads all active drivers with 44 starts. · Buddy Baker won the inaugural Coors Light pole at Pocono in 1974 with a speed of 144.122 mph. · 40 drivers have posted Coors Light poles at Pocono, led by Bill Elliott and Ken Schrader with five each; Jimmie Johnson and Denny Hamlin lead all active drivers with three each. · Five drivers have won consecutive Coors Light poles at Pocono. Bill Elliott holds the record for most consecutive poles at Pocono with three; fall 1984 and both races in 1985. · Two active drivers have posted consecutive Coors Light poles at Pocono: Denny Hamlin (2006 sweep) and Joey Logano (fall 2011 and spring 2012). · Youngest Pocono pole winner: Joey Logano (08/07/2011 – 21 years, 2 months, 14 days). · Oldest Pocono pole winner: David Pearson (06/10/1984 – 49 years, 5 months, 19 days). · 32 different drivers have won at Pocono Raceway , led by Jeff Gordon with six wins. · Seven drivers have posted consecutive wins at Pocono Raceway , including three consecutive by Bobby Allison (1982 sweep and spring 1983) and Tim Richmond (1986 sweep and spring 1987). · Three of the seven drivers to win consecutive races at Pocono are active: Jimmie Johnson (2004 sweep); Denny Hamlin (2006 sweep and 2009 fall and 2010 spring races); Dale Earnhardt Jr . (2014 sweep). · Youngest Pocono winner: Joey Logano (06/10/2012 – 22 years, 0 months, 17 days). · Oldest Pocono winner: Harry Gant (06/17/1990 – 50 years, 5 months, 7 days). · Hendrick Motorsports has the most wins at Pocono in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series with 17: Jeff Gordon (six), Tim Richmond (three), Jimmie Johnson (three), Dale Earnhardt Jr . (two), Kasey Kahne (one), Geoff Bodine (one) and Terry Labonte (one) – including the last four consecutively. · Eight different manufacturers have won in the NSCS at Pocono; led by Chevrolet with 30 victories; followed by Ford with 21 and Toyota has three. · 15 of the 74 (20.2%) NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races at Pocono have been won from the Coors Light pole; the most recent was Jimmie Johnson (June, 2013). · The Coors Light pole position is the most proficient starting position in the field, producing more winners (15) than any other starting position at Pocono Raceway . · 24 of the 74 (32.4%) NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races at Pocono have been won from the front row: 15 from the pole and nine from second-place. · 52 of the 74 (70.2%) NASCAR Sprint Cup races at Pocono have been won from a top-10 starting position. · Five of the 73 (6.8%) NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races at Pocono have been won from a starting position outside the top 20. · The deepest in the field that a race winner has started at Pocono is 29th, by Carl Edwards in the spring of 2005. · Mark Martin leads the series in runner-up finishes at Pocono with seven; Jeff Gordon leads all active drivers with six. · Mark Martin leads the series in top-five finishes at Pocono with 20; Jeff Gordon leads all active drivers with 19. · Mark Martin leads the series in top-10 finishes at Pocono with 34; Jeff Gordon leads all active drivers with 31. · Denny Hamlin leads all active drivers in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series in average starting position at Pocono with a 6.556. · Jeff Gordon leads all active drivers in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series in average finishing position at Pocono with a 9.864. · Denny Hamlin and Carl Edwards are the only two active drivers to win at Pocono in their first appearances. · Matt Kenseth leads the series among active drivers with the most NASCAR Sprint Cup Series starts at Pocono without visiting Victory Lane at 30; followed by Kevin Harvick with 28. · Since the advent of electronic scoring the closest margin of victory (MOV) in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series at Pocono Raceway was the July 23, 2000 race won by Rusty Wallace over Jeff Burton with a MOV of 0.126 second. · There have been three NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races resulting with a green-white-checkered finish at Pocono Raceway (Scheduled No. of Laps/Actual No. of Laps): spring of 2005 (200/201); fall of 2005 (200/203); spring of 2010 (200/204). · Six of the 74 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races at Pocono Raceway have been shortened due to weather conditions; the most recent was the event on 8/5/2012. · Qualifying has been cancelled due to weather conditions in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series at Pocono Raceway five times; most recently the spring of 2013. · Kyle Larson (8/03/2014) and Casey Mears (8/1/2004) posted their first career NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Coors Light pole at Pocono Raceway . · One active NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver has posted his first career win at Pocono Raceway : Denny Hamlin (06/11/06). · Jeff Gordon leads all active drivers in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series in laps led at Pocono with 1,037 laps led in 44 starts. · Two female drivers have competed at Pocono Raceway in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series: Janet Guthrie and Danica Patrick . Patrick’s average finish in four starts at Pocono is 32.750. Driver Starting Position Finishing Position Date Danica Patrick 10 30 8/3/2014 Danica Patrick 16 37 6/8/2014 Danica Patrick 34 35 8/4/2013 Danica Patrick 30 29 6/9/2013 Janet Guthrie 21 28 7/27/1980 Janet Guthrie 22 31 7/30/1978 Janet Guthrie 10 11 7/31/1977 NASCAR in Pennsylvania · There have been 108 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races among nine tracks in Pennsylvania. Track Name City NSCS Pocono Raceway Long Pond 74 Langhorne Speedway Langhorne 17 Lincoln Speedway New Oxford 7 Heidelberg Raceway Pittsburgh 4 Reading Fairgrounds Reading 2 Bloomsburg Fairgrounds Bloomsburg 1 New Bradford Speedway Bradford 1 Pine Grove Speedway Shippenville 1 Williams Grove Speedway Mechanicsburg 1 · 141 drivers in NASCAR national series history have their home state recorded as Pennsylvania. · Three of the 141 have won in NASCAR’s premiere series. Driver NSCS NNS NCWTS Dick Linder 3 0 0 Jimmy Spencer 2 12 1 Mark Donohue 1 0 0 MILESTONES – Pocono Raceway DRIVER HAS NEEDS MILESTONE Jeff Gordon 774 1 775th Consecutive NSCS Start - Gordon is first on the
Jeff Gordon talks about where his consecutive starts record places among the other stats in his storied career and ponders whether the next generation of drivers will have an easier time breaking his mark .
Editor's note: The views expressed in this column are solely those of the author. RELATED: Harvick and the most clutch moments in sports history DOVER, Del. -- How strong was Kevin Harvick and the Stewart-Haas Racing team in Sunday’s AAA 400 at Dover International Speedway ? "If we would have had qualifying on Friday," crew chief Rodney Childers said Sunday evening, "we'd have led 400 (laps)." Folks laughed and Childers smiled. But beneath the euphoria of another victory, Childers wasn't kidding. Harvick, the defending NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion, didn't lead every lap in the series' 29th race. He led 355. The dominating performance came one week after the No. 4 Chevrolet was out front for 216 of 300 laps at New Hampshire Motor Speedway . A miscalculation cost Harvick that particular victory -- his fuel cell ran dry just three laps from the finish to drop him from first to 21st. Combined with a crash at Chicagoland Speedway the previous week, Harvick arrived in Dover with seemingly little chance of advancing out of the Challenger Round of this year's Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup . Fifteenth in a field of 16 that would see four drivers eliminated from Chase contention, Harvick didn't accomplish the impossible at Dover. The improbable? Yes. The impossible? No. We've seen this movie before. Faced with elimination last year, Harvick thrashed the field at Phoenix and then went on a week later to win the race and the championship at Homestead. Pressure rolls off the 39-year-old like rain off a freshly waxed car. Being put in a must-win situation isn’t pressure in Harvick's world. It's opportunity. Pressure is being thrust into the spotlight following the loss of one of the sport's legendary figures. "That was pretty high," Harvick said of the call-up to fill the ride formerly held by seven-time series champion Dale Earnhardt in 2001. "There will never be anything close to that one. "When you look at the sport's biggest hero gone, you look at millions of race fans that are depending upon somebody to drive that car and you have 350 people that have jobs and families and you're their guy, never done it before, but good luck. You know what I mean? That's a lot of pressure." Before Sunday, Harvick had never won at Dover. Cross the 1-mile concrete track off the list. Only Sonoma , Texas, Pocono and Kentucky remain to be conquered. In a span of barely three-and-a-half hours Sunday, Harvick and his team went from the best team not expected to advance to the team to beat from here on out. Runner-up Kyle Busch , extending his own amazing season by racing his way into the next round from outside the top 12, said as much. "That was a guy," Busch admitted, "that we wanted to knock out ... that's a guy that can win all these races and you don't want to have to compete against a guy like that." Harvick has finished second 10 times this year, and to come so close without closing the deal can be disheartening. It can also build character. "If you're going to get frustrated over running like we've run this year, you're probably going to be a detriment to your team," Harvick said. Win or lose, he said, you show up at the start of a new workweek and begin anew. "It's just the nature of this team and what they do, and the character of it is deep, and they all believe in each other," he said. "When you have a group of people like this that doesn't do things out of the ordinary for situations like this, you know, they just look at it as another task at hand." He has led more than 2,000 laps for the second consecutive season, a mark as impressive as this year's 19 top-five and 23 top-10 finishes. It was a demoralizing defeat for those who thought they had the defending champion on the ropes. But there are more opportunities ahead for Busch and others in the Chase field. "We'll see what happens," the Joe Gibbs Racing driver said. "There are still two more rounds to figure out who's going to make it to Homestead." In the meantime, Harvick and his group aren't making any apologies for Sunday's runaway. "“We're not going to ride around fifth all day and wait to take the lead at the end," Childers said. "That's not what we're made out of. "We came here to lead laps and to do our job and to end up with that car in Victory Lane." And at the end of the day, that's exactly what they accomplished.
Zack Morris has the honors ahead of Hollywood Casino 400 RELATED: @nascarcasm on how NASCAR, 'Saved By The Bell' are alike Kansas Speedway has announced its grand marshal for the Hollywood Casino 400 , and -- Hey, hey, hey, what is going on here? Zack Morris, straight from Bayside High, will utter the most famous words in racing on Oct. 18. Oh, Preppy! via GIPHY OK, we get that it's not actually Zack Morris -- it's actor Mark -Paul Gosselaar, and he's done much more than just "Saved by the Bell." Still, who doesn't remember him as the fun-loving, trouble-making high schooler? We only hope he brings Kelly Kapowski with him. We're also glad he can no longer be confused with Jamie McMurray .
GarageCam host Matthew Dillner kicks off the Contender Round in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup by taking you through the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series garage at Charlotte Motor Speedway and talks with multiple drivers along the way.
In honor of Hispanic Heritage Month, NASCAR shines a spotlight on the talented Latino Drivers successfully competing at all levels of the sport.
GarageCam host Matthew Dillner takes you through the NASCAR XFINITY Series garage at Charlotte Motor Speedway and picks up a sweet gift.
RELATED: NASCAR doubles restart zone " Drivers weigh in on restart change DOVER, Del. – NASCAR Sprint Cup Series drivers appear to be pleased with NASCAR's decision to lengthen the restart zone used at tracks, but say that the move won't completely erase the gamesmanship that plays out when the field prepares to take the green flag. The sanctioning body announced earlier this week that the restart zone for this weekend's AAA 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Dover International Speedway had been expanded from 70 feet to 140 feet. Likewise, the zones at upcoming events in this year's Chase for the Sprint Cup would also be expanded, with the actual length of the zone to be determined by the size of the track. Restart zones, located prior to the start/finish line, indicate where the race leader, or control car, is allowed to accelerate when the race is either beginning or coming out of a caution period. Issues with drivers timing their starts to gain an advantage on the leader have led to complaints from competitors and explanations of how restarts are policed as well as warnings to toe the line during drivers' meetings. Beginning with the first Chase race, at Chicagoland Speedway , NASCAR stationed an official inside the track near the restart zone, and added a high definition camera to provide additional information should the need arise. At Chicagoland, Jeff Gordon appeared to jump the restart while starting second alongside Kyle Busch . NASCAR reviewed the restart and eventually ruled that no infraction took place. RELATED: What NASCAR said after the Chicagoland restart was reviewed Last week at New Hampshire Motor Speedway , Brad Keselowski was black-flagged for jumping the restart, although he did not complete a pass of race leader Greg Biffle during the restart. "I absolutely love it," Gordon, a four-time series champion, said Friday at Dover. "I think it's a great move." Gordon's been around longer than any current full-time driver, and has seen the way NASCAR handles restarts evolve from single-file to double-file, from not allowing the leader to be passed before the start/finish line to making that line a non-factor on restarts. The use of restart zones and how they have been policed, while a good idea, was "too extreme," according to the Hendrick Motorsports driver. "It used to be a mark on the wall and it was go in the vicinity of this mark and this area, but really the way the rules were written you could kind of go all the way to the start/finish line," he said. "People pushed the limits on that and forced NASCAR to make this box that we currently have. "The box was always too small. It just makes the whole front row very vulnerable and not just the second-place car, but the leader as well. It has needed to be bigger. My only question is did they go big enough?" Gordon said he had his team's engineers do a study of the restart zones, and discovered that "the average time that you are in that box and had time to react to a restart was barely more than one second. "It may look like it's fairly big out there, (but) it is not," he said. "When you have one second to react in that area everyone can just anticipate what is going on but the people in the front row." The fact that a driver is the leader, said Joe Gibbs Racing 's Kyle Busch , should provide him with some advantage, however slight it might be. "This business isn't easy," Busch said. "... I think the biggest thing is just NASCAR making sure that they watch the roll – the people rolling up on other people. And … I feel as though the second-place guy can't beat the leader to the first (restart zone) mark , the end of the restart zone. "It doesn't matter about the start-finish line. It's the restart zone I feel like the leader should always be ahead." While extending the zone will give officials a bigger window in which to determine if a driver has jumped a restart, the change won't end drivers' attempts to push the envelope. But by finally ruling against a driver on a restart – something officials had not done recently – teams now know the possibility of the call coming down exists. "There's going to be plenty of gamesmanship still, and I think NASCAR has also set the precedent with what they did last week and enforcing the rule," Joey Logano , Keselowski's teammate at Team Penske , said. "That's something they need to continue doing. "It's not just having it happen one time and ... scare us, and then don't do anything about it for the next three weeks. "They finally put their foot down last week on what we can and can't do, and that rule needs to be consistent and make sure that when they see something they make the same call and be consistent with that."
DOVER, Del. – Jimmie Johnson 's NASCAR premier series career is a story of numbers. Wins? He's at 74 and counting, eighth most in the series and second among active drivers. Championships? Six, trailing only the seven won by NASCAR Hall of Fame members Richard Petty and Dale Earnhardt. Second-place finishes? He's got 46 of those, also second most among active participants. The only item that Johnson can't put a number on involves retirement. "No, I do not have a number and I have not picked a number," Johnson said Friday at Dover International Speedway , site of Sunday's AAA 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race (2:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR). "As a kid growing up racing and as I got in the sport, I didn't say 'when I get to this age, I'm going to step down.' I haven't had that conversation and have not picked a number with my wife and said, 'OK honey, this is the point that I am going to stop.' It's really based on feel, and I have Chani's support on that as well. "When I feel like it's time, I am going to make that decision. Certainly (I) don't feel like it's time now." That may be bad news for his fellow racers. Johnson is the only driver to qualify for the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup every year; he's won multiple races every year since his first full season in 2002 and he has finished outside the top five in points only twice during his 14-year career. In a sport that changes constantly, Johnson and success have been linked since Day 1. Hendrick Motorsports teammate Jeff Gordon , 44, is stepping aside at year's end. Fellow series champion Tony Stewart , also 44, has announced that 2016 will be his last as a Sprint Cup Series driver. "I remember watching Rusty (Wallace) pick a number and then remember talking to (him) in years following that and I still think he's mad he stopped," Johnson said. "I think he feels like he could be out here racing with us and winning races. "So conversations with him, with Dale Jarrett, with other guys ... I have always been curious. Why, when, what tells you to stop? Mark (Martin) tried a half dozen times to retire and couldn't walk away. "So I want to make sure I do it once and not keep coming back." What he's looking for, he said, is "the moment." "That moment that you say, ‘Alright, it's time.' When that shows up, then I will step down." The final race in this year's Challenger Round is set for Sunday. It will be Johnson's 500th career start, and his fifth-place points position makes him a shoo-in to be one of the 12 drivers who advance into the Contender Round. Becoming a member of Hendrick Motorsports , paired with sponsor Lowe's and crew chief Chad Knaus, the success that followed has "been a life-changing experience," Johnson said, "something I dreamed of. "But I still couldn't have dreamed this big and have this much take place for us."