Jimmie Johnson Just Can’t Win

by Jim on July 8, 2013 · 11 comments

Some may call this a case of “sympathy for the devil” (with all apologies to the Rolling Stones), but it seems here that JimmieJJ celebrates Coke Zero 400 Johnson is damned if he does and damned if he doesn’t. One thing’s for sure, the five time NASCAR Sprint Cup champion has little interest in winning in the court of public opinion, as evidenced by his late race maneuvers at Daytona International Speedway at the Coke Zero 400.

Let’s face it fans, and let’s try to be intellectually honest about it: if my driver blocks, he’s defending his position. If your driver blocks, he’s being a blockhead. If your driver mouths off at and to the media, he’s a whiny jerk. If my driver does the same, he’s calling it like he sees it. If my driver lays a bumper on another, he’s fighting for the win. If your driver does it, he’s a dirty driver.

Jimmie Johnson is the Tiger Woods of NASCAR. He piles up wins much like the Miami Heat, much like the NBA fan base, there’s a lot of fans who don’t like it. It’s any number of things that may bring this about, and just as it may seem to many that the loyalty shown to Dale Earnhardt Jr. almost defies logic, you can’t get around this- fans are entitled to like whomever they like, and similarly, fans are entitled to dislike whomever they want to dislike, regardless of who he is and what he does.

Given that, regardless of whether or not he did the wrong thing, Jimmie Johnson isn’t going to win regarding his move at Daytona Saturday. To hear him tell it, he’d been shifting from line to line to hold off challengers all race long, determining this time to get out front and stay out front for the duration of the race- a reverse Tony Stewart strategy if you will. I the instance in question, Johnson changed lanes from running in front of teammate Kasey Kahne, to moving in front of Marcos Ambrose. The Aussie makes his move, Johnson blocks, Ambrose tries to avoid getting hit, gets forced into Kahne, sending the ‘5’ car sailing into the inside wall. Ouch!

Kasey Kahne was understandably upset. Whether or not he had a legitimate shot at beating Johnson is something we’ll never know. What we know is that he’s had good cars week after week, and stuff like this derails his day. You know what’s interesting though? The one person I don’t hear pitching a fit in all of this is Kasey Kahne. Do you honestly think being Johnson’s teammate keeps him from speaking his mind on the matter? Kahne’s a big boy, he’s the driver who got hosed, and if you really think he would suddenly become persona non grata for calling out Johnson, then you have a different view than me about things operate at Hendrick Motorsports.

Here’s the deal: all you people who said Carl Edwards had no business whining about Greg Biffle a few weeks back, ought to be applying the same principle here. Yes, I know Johnson whines like a prune fed cat when things don’t go his way, but this is irrelevant to this discussion. Jimmie Johnson’s job is to win races. He really doesn’t owe Kasey Kahne anything. It may not be how I’d do things if I were driving the ‘48’ but guess what, I’m not driving the ‘48,’ and for Rick Hendrick’s sake, it’s a good thing I’m not.

Admit it, critics, if YOUR driver did it, you would have looked the other way. That’s o.k. While Jimmie Johnson can’t win in the court of public opinion, he has no trouble winning on the track.

I’m pretty sure Johnson will live with it. He would rather lead the points than lead in merchandising sales. 

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1 Mr. Showmanship July 9, 2013 at 1:58 am

I think more people had a problem with his car being so fast that he didn’t have to draft with anyone than an accident he was involved in that wasn’t really his fault

2 lbsandjr July 9, 2013 at 5:50 am

The question is why was he faster than everyone else? I thought restrictor plate racing made all the cars equal speed? Was Nascar so involved with the 16 teams and their spacers that Cheatin Chad pulled a fast one on the restrictor plate?

3 Vicki Williams July 9, 2013 at 5:52 am

Since I’ve become a NASCAR lover, I;ve heard fans say over and over again that NASCAR has gone downhill because drivers are “just calling it in”, just points racing, not racing all out like back in the day. To hear fans tell it, what they want is for these guys to “drive every lap like its the last lap” and to “drive’em like they stole’em”. Rubbin’ is racing, don’t you know? Tradin’ paint! The rap on Jimmie is that he’s too bland and vanilla, not passionate and aggressive like The Intimidator! So which is it, NASCAR fans?

4 Jim July 9, 2013 at 6:10 am

@Mr. Showmanship.
@Ibsandjr- your comments point out another area where the ’48′ can’t win. It’s all the cheating talk. Has Chad been caught cheating before? Yes- and so have several other crew chiefs as well. Pushing the envelope cuts ALL across NASCAR.

5 Dan July 9, 2013 at 6:15 am

I think when you drive for HMS you have to be a team player, period. No complaining about your teammate regardless. At least not publicly.Wouldn’t you like to be a fly on the wall at HMS team meetings though? Johnson and the 48 team are the top dog in the pack. They are going to get anything they want from HMS because they are chasing after 8 Championships and getting darn close. I think the 5, 24, & 88 teams are all odd man out until the 8 Championships are achieved. Too bad for them. Kasey Kahne is not going to bite the hand that feeds him. He knows he has a pretty sweet ride. Remember, he drove for a much lesser team for a year just to get the ride he has now.

6 Jim July 9, 2013 at 6:56 am

@Dan. That MAY be. No question Kasey’s in the sweetest situation he’s been in since the early days at Evernham. With that said, I’m not sure how well any one of these guys would abide being a second banana. I’ll predict this though: I don’t think JJ gets to 8. 6? Definitely. 7? Possibly. 8? 1 championship is hard enough. Winning 3 more? As good as Jimmie is, I don’t know if he can get there. I don’t know if ANYONE can. It bodes poorly for Jeff, Junior and Kasey if your theory is true.

7 BrianFitz July 9, 2013 at 7:34 am

Hey All Good Morning,
Jim I have to agree with pretty much everything you said in this article, especially the part about “Jr. Nation”, now there’s a phenomena I just don’t get !! He barely manages to squeak out a Win once a year (and there have been way longer spells) he ain’t that handsome, he looks like a street bum with that uneven scruffy red beard and when he get in an interview he can barely put 2 sentences together that make sense or have any relevance to the topic he was asked about.
Should Kasey Kahne go over and wack JJ upside the head for doing what he did to cause Kasey to get Wrecked ?….No….I mean they were racing for the lead with the laps running out, and I’m quite sure that JJ didn’t think that by trying to block Marcos, Kasey would get put into the wall…now should Kasey give Jimmie any slack in the future ?….No…
Oh and to the comment about being a “fly on the wall” at HMS team meetings this week….yeah, I’d sure like to be in on that one.
FACT: The 48 Team pushes the envelope as far as the Rules go for sure (and has even broken their fair share of them), Jimmie Johnson pushes the envelope as a Driver too. Do they care about the media….or their merchandise sales….meh…Do they win Races….4 so far this year and were not even half way thru the Season………Do they Win Championships ? 5 in a Row and trying for more.
Fact: The 88 Team shows flashes of speed at certain tracks….but lacks consistence. Do they win Races….this year…nope….last year….stole one at Michigan…before that…4 years went by…Do they sell merchandise….boat loads of it …. Fan Favorite…..every since Elliott took his name out of the hat…does he win Championships…(see above about winning races) …..not happening.
Jr. Nation ??? what the Frak….??
Trust me when I say, Mr. H loves what both of them are doing….JJ’s winning everything under the sun and bringing in lots of Money and Trophies, Jr.’s selling lots of merchandise and bringing in lots of Money. I mean really, “The National Guard” for a sponsor !! isn’t that like being backed by the Government ???

8 Jim July 9, 2013 at 8:05 am

@Brian- be careful today. Hell hath no fury like Jr. fan scorned. They are a sensitive lot- my wife is one. I was curious as to your take, given that you’re a Kahne fan on the incident. There’s nothing that says that one day, the roles won’t be reversed, and Kasey has the advantage, if Jimmie gets wadded, he should remember well what happened at Daytona. IMO- there’s no such thing as teammates when going for the win. To me, it’s not selfish, it’s just what racing is.
Good points.

9 mike July 9, 2013 at 12:07 pm

@lbsandjr…. where in the world did you get the idea that restrictor plates will make everyone the same speed… or that they are even supposed to? They are used to limit horsepower yes. Speed is derived from much more than base HP.

So clearly you were insinuating that JJ is getting away with something because they should all be the same exact speed. Then why have qualifying. More importantly what was not everyone the same speed in qualifying?

Was Kyle Busch cheating? He clearly got around the track faster than Nemecheck?

In fact by your logic something was fishy about every single car that ran faster than someone else.

10 Dan July 9, 2013 at 1:47 pm

@Jim…I hope you’re right about the Championship prediction but Knaus and Johnson, I feel, are on a mission and as long as they’re together everyone else gets thrown under the bus if need be to gain 8. I predict that Kahne will be the first to get a championship out of the lowly three though. Junior is too wishy washy and Gordon is just flat out running out of steam. Once Johnson has 8 the next thing will be the focus on Chase Elliott in the 24.Elliott is going to need time to ease his way into Cup which still leaves time for J& K show to do their thing.Here’s the plan: “Boys you need to get after those championships because we got the next best thing coming in a few years.” Sound far fetched? Not to me. IMO Johnson and Knaus just really stink up the show.

11 Jim July 9, 2013 at 1:53 pm

@Dan- but we’ve seen that happen before. It really sucked for Dale-haters back in the late 80s and early 90s. How about Richard Petty blowing it out in the late 60s and early 70s? Cale Yarborough in his 3-peat, or DW’s run in the early 80s? At least non-JJ fans got a little bit of a break in the last two years. Egos can get in the way, maybe an injury, maybe just the competitive atmosphere. That’s what I remind people of when they suggest a “fix for the 48.” I can’t fathom any competitor rolling over for it.

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