I’ll Say This About Jimmie

by Jim on November 12, 2009 · 12 comments

Chad At Texas w 48 RJ GI 4 NAS For being a reigning champion, Jimmie Johnson sure takes a lot of grief. When I pick apart what I’ve read fans say about him, I’ve concluded that it’s really not Jimmie that they hate.

Speaking for myself, it does get a little old watching one guy stink up the show. I wonder how old schoolers dealt with Petty’s dominance back in the day. A lot it ,too, is guilt by association. I have little doubt that racing for Rick Hendrick is a part of it. I’m sure there is also the association with Jeff Gordon. For others, it’s having Chad Knaus (thought to be a prolific cheater) for a crew chief.

Most of all, I think it’s that Johnson is kind of an “anti- Dale”, if you will. Or at least that’s the common perception. His Cup career went from zero to sixty in a New York minute. He says all the right things. Johnson may grouse about another’s driving (even Gordon’s) once in a while, but you never hear about him getting called to the hauler.

Fans are entitled to their opinions of him, but I’ll say this about48 down pit road TP GI 4 NAS Jimmie Johnson: no one competes harder. The most recent example is last Sunday. He didn’t gain a ton by going back out after that famous lap three crash, but he did it anyway. There’s always that possibility Johnson will need that handful of points come Homestead.

When have you ever seen this guy points race? From this point of view, I’d say only at Homestead. There IS that possibility he won’t have the luxury this year. That aside, my mind flashes to racing from the back at Pocono, to trying like the dickens to run Mark Martin down at Phoenix before finally crying uncle and saying, “I’ve got nothing for him.”

Now, keep in mind that, as a fan, this is the one Hendrick driver I DON’T root for. It’s nothing personal, I’m just one who tends to root for the underdog, which Johnson most certainly is not.

By the same token, I’m betting that if he showed up at my doorstep with the goods for a backyard barbecue, I’d find him to be pleasant company. An oft-forgotten aspect of his story is he does have an “everyman” back story. Have you seen his parents on TV? We’re talking about people who look quite a bit like fans I meet at the local dirt track- just plain old good folks.

I don’t think he is the way he is because Jimmie Johnson is “politically correct”, I think the guy is generally polite and well-spoken because that’s just the way he is. Until sufficient evidence of otherwise is presented, that’s my read of the three-time champion.

The man may not top my list of drivers to root for, but I’ve grown to respect him. To be quite honest, I wished some of “my drivers” were as focused as Johnson and Knaus. They’re relentless. 

They fight for every win and every point they can get. It’s like former Jets and Chiefs coach Herman Edwards said (I’m sure you’ve seen the Coors Lite commercial”)

“You play. To win. The game.” 

PHOTO CREDITS- Chad Knaus with “48” car by Rusty Jarrett/ Getty Images for NASCAR. The “48” down pit road at TMS by Tom Pennington/ Getty Images for NASCAR.

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1 mkrcr November 13, 2009 at 5:47 am

The only thing more boring than JJ are the articles about how he’s not boring.

2 egge November 13, 2009 at 6:57 am

Jimmie is no better than most of the other drivers out there. I saw him race years ago and he was a top 10 racer on a good day.Yes he is all PC in the public but he wasn’t always that way. Take away his crew chief and cars and top 10 driver at best. Mark Martin is a real driver!!!

3 janine November 13, 2009 at 7:29 am

I don’t like or dislike JJ and I’m not sure why. If he gets a fourth championship, so be it. I don’t like this point system, but NASCAR has made it clear, they don’t intend to change it anytime soon. Would JJ be going for a fourth title under the old point system? No.

4 CnP November 13, 2009 at 7:37 am

So sick of people trying to negate Jimmie’s championships because they weren’t won under “the old system”. Get over it.

Richard Petty & Dale Sr. wouldn’t have won their championships under the new system. Does that negate their accomplishments any? Heck no. They all won their championships under the rules in place at the time.

5 janine November 13, 2009 at 7:41 am

The point system sucks!

6 jimmccoy22 November 13, 2009 at 8:08 am

@mkrcr. I think you hold back too much. Tell us how you really feel. Now, do take care to note, I did not say Johnson is the most dynamic figure around, just simply that as I observe the man compete, I’ve come to respect in a greater way his drive to win and succeed.
To each his own.

7 Big Jim November 13, 2009 at 8:12 am

Good article- Most of these Jimmie/ Chad /Hendrix haters are new fans that don’t know anything more about the sport than they see on fox or People magazine. Jimmy and Chad have put together the finest team in NASCAR’s modern history, and if the crybabies wanna cmplain- As for Chad being a cheater, some of the most popular people in NASCAR have been rule pushers- Wood Brother’s, Petty, DW – Get over it

JJ in 2010-AGAIN

8 Big Jim November 13, 2009 at 8:16 am

And Egge- Have you ever heard the saying”Better to remain sileent and thought a fool than to speak and remove all doubt”? Think about it- Really

9 Brian November 13, 2009 at 9:51 am

My biggest curiousity is just what kind of money they have to work with as far as the 48′s budget goes. My opinion is just this, DUPONT outspend every other team hands down when Gordo was in his prime and now that they have been decreasing their sponsorship money, so had Gordons performance. Many, MANY teams have to recycle parts until they break or wear out, I’d bet the farm that the 48 team does not re-use very many parts. When I was racing dirt cars, the guys with the most $$$, won most of the races and ALL of the champioships.

10 Rachel November 13, 2009 at 9:58 am

Mark Martin may be the sentimental favorite of most NASCAR fans, but I have been following his career since the beginning, and Mark simply does not have the killer instinct that it takes to be a champion in most sports. He has always been too satisfied with top fives – both in individual races and in the championships where he has been in contention. As Vince Lombardi was quoted as saying, “Show me a good loser and I’ll show you a loser.” That is why I am cheering for Jimmie and Kyle Busch over the next two weekends; they go for the wins.

11 Joe W. November 13, 2009 at 10:20 am

Good thoughts Jim. I too root for the other three Hendrick drivers and sometime wonder why I don’t like Jimmie. He sure dosen’t give me reason to dislike him like Kyle Busch does. I think the reason I don’t like him (I don’t hate him either, by the way) is becuase he just seemed to become good over night. I mean he even says he “sucked” until he got to cup. Those are his words, I heard him say it. So even though it makes no sense really, I think that is why I just don’t root for him. I guess I just like to see someone do well at one level then move up. It seems wierd to be only so-so at one level then move up and be great. Oh well just my opinion and we know everyone has got one.

12 Patrick November 13, 2009 at 2:49 pm

I wish I had a dollar for every replay of Jimmie’s Texas crash was replayed on SPEED this week.

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