AVONDALE, AZ – We didn’t know it then, but when Jimmie Johnson won the 2016 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series championship, it would be Chevrolet’s last. Over the last three years now, not only has Chevy not had a title, they have failed to make the Championship 4 even.
They came into Sunday’s Round of 8 cutoff race at the ISM Raceway with two drivers still championship eligible, but they needed to win. Unfortunately, Chase Elliott crashed on Lap 165 and would finish last while Kyle Larson came up just short in fourth.
Larson, was sixth back in the spring race in Phoenix and third in last year’s playoff race too. Also, Larson has five top six finishes in his last seven Phoenix starts. The numbers favored an upset win by him but he just didn’t have a good enough car compared to the Joe Gibbs Racing entries.
For Elliott, his Round of 8 was dismal. He blew and engine in practice at Martinsville and had to start in the back. Early on in the race, a rear axle would break sending him home with a 36th place result. A week later in Texas, he got into the greasy stuff in Turn 2 just eight laps into the race and crash. He’d finish 32nd. Now, he comes home 39th as he’s eliminated in the third round for the third straight year.
Chevrolet is growing tired of not competing for championships anymore. From 2005 through 2016, the bowties captured 10 championships in the 12 year span.
If you go back to 1984 even and end it at 2016, Chevrolet had 23 tiles compared to Ford’s 5, Pontiac’s 3, Toyota’s and Dodge’s 1 a piece. At the time of Jimmie Johnson hoisting his seventh Cup championship trophy in 2016, Dodge and Pontiac were out of NASCAR while Ford hadn’t won a title since 2004.
It was pure domination.
Chevy had won at least 10 races for 16 straight seasons. They had won at least nine races every year from 1993 though 2016 too. In fact, from 2003 through 2016, they won 15 races in a single season in 12 of 14 years.
But, that’s when the bottom started dropping out.
They won just 10 times in 2017, their lowest since having nine victories in 2000. In 2018, they won only four times, their smallest amount since only scoring three wins in 1982. This year, they’ve rebounded to win seven times, but their 11 trips to victory lane the last two years combined is smaller than every single single’s total other than 2017 (10) from 2001 on.