MOORESVILLE, N.C. — Longtime driver development specialist Lorin Ranier believes that seven-time NASCAR premier series champion Jimmie Johnson has the capacity to not only break the record he currently shares with Richard Petty and Dale Earnhardt, but raise it to an untouchable level.
Ranier told Race Chaser Online this week that he feels both Johnson’s current driving prowess and his peak physical condition are lending to his longevity of performance in the sport, and that the El Cajon, California native likely isn’t done winning titles.
“He’s certainly going for eight (championships),” Ranier said, referencing Johnson’s series-leading third Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series win of the season last weekend at Dover Int’l Speedway as a benchmark. “I think that’s definitely in the windshield … is eight, for sure, and maybe more.”
“Honestly, I think he’s probably in as good a condition physically as he ever has (been) in his life. Barring injury or something crazy happening, I think there’s no reason he couldn’t just put the bar maybe out of reach. It’s possible that he does championships like Richard Petty did wins … and there’s just no way to attain it.”
Ranier also spoke on the significance of Johnson’s 83rd career Cup win, scored on Sunday in Dover and tying Johnson with Cale Yarborough for sixth on the series’ all-time victories list.
Johnson wore a vintage Yarborough team hat during the victory celebration Sunday afternoon, featuring the Hardee’s colors Yarborough drove for Ranier Racing from 1983-1986.
“Jimmie and I have been close since I worked with him back in 2000 and 2001,” said Ranier, whose father Harry was Yarborough’s team owner during that span. “He asked me about six weeks ago … sent me a text asking if it would be possible to come up with a Hardee’s (No.) 28 hat. I told him we could make that happen, and he said, ‘If I make it to 83 wins, I wanna pay tribute to Cale Yarborough.'”
“Cale was his childhood hero. Obviously, my family owned that team … and he wanted a hat, so I made it happen for him. He did what he said what he would do; he won the race and wore the hat. It was kind of cool, too, that he had the helmet painted in tribute to Cale as well. Anyways, it all worked out pretty well.”
Though he hasn’t worked with Johnson at the Cup level, Ranier admitted he does carry personal pride on being “one of the many catalysts” for the seven-time champion’s success, after guiding him through his early NASCAR XFINITY Series years at Herzog Motorsports.
“For me, the personal satisfaction I get is having worked with him,” Ranier explained. “He came right out of ASA into the Busch Series … which is XFINITY now. He was pretty green, super-quick and didn’t know a lot, but I think I really helped with his transition … so I get a lot of satisfaction out of that.”
Did the talent scout-turned-coach and spotter ever imagine Johnson’s Hall of Fame-worthy numbers?
“In my mind, did I ever think that he would win seven championships and 83 races? No way. Not a chance. I absolutely never thought that (was possible), but to know I had a small part in (making that possible) and helping him in the transition (into NASCAR) … it’s just complete satisfaction on my end of it.”
About the Writer
Jacob Seelman is the Managing Editor of Race Chaser Online and creator of the Motorsports Madness radio show, airing at 7 p.m. Eastern every Monday on the Performance Motorsports Network.
Seelman grew up in the sport, watching his grandparents co-own the RaDiUs Motorsports NASCAR Cup Series team in the 1990s.
The 23-year-old is currently studying Broadcast Journalism at Winthrop University in Rock Hill, S.C., and is also serving as the full-time tour announcer for the Must See Racing Sprint Car Series.
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