It’s impossible to deny, but hard to admit. Yours truly doesn’t root for Goliath. New York Yankees? Every season they miss the World Series is a good season. Back when the 49ers used to dominate in the NFL, hanging out in southern Oregon sports bars wasn’t much fun. The Miami Heat? I don’t root for them. It’s also feels unseemly to admit, but the recent struggles of Tiger Woods have made watching golf far more enjoyable.
In that same of line of thought, it’s difficult for this NASCAR fan to admit that five time NASCAR Sprint Cup champion appears well on his way to becoming “Six Pack Jimmie”- and it’s not a reference to his abs. Jimmie, crew chief Chad Knaus and the ‘48’ team seem to have it all: wins, consistency, and the ability to get good results in bad races. It’s kind of like Tiger Woods at a golf tournament. How many times have we witnessed stiff competition, only to watch Woods turn up the wick on Sunday to steal the show.
Not only are Johnson and Woods similar in that they are winners with a penchant for dominance, they also seem similar in temperament. Intense on the field of competition, they possess a laid back persona off of it that suggests blandness. My fellow fan Mad Mikie has a moniker he uses for Johnson from Mike’s military days to describe someone with no personality. I won’t use the term here, we’ll just say it is a nickname derived from a busted bathroom appliance. I’m not sure he’s quite THAT bad, but there’s no denying Johnson isn’t the most fiery character on the circuit.
With that being said, the El Cajon, California boy of blue collar extract is different from Woods in one refreshing way: you’ll never see him caught in some salacious scandal of infidelity a la Tiger. I’m sure Chandi and Genevieve are quite glad of it too. It seems the former model from Oklahoma is nearly always at his side with little one in tow.
I have to give the man props. There’s been more than one racer that’s thrown his crew under the bus and after running them over, back over them. Johnson took the high road with the “win as a team, lose as a team” mantra. He fessed up to costing his team a good finish or two. I don’t need to name names, but that kind of class doesn’t grow on trees in racing.
This dominance will all end someday. Just ask Richard Petty, Darrell Waltrip or even Jeff Gordon, who simply just isn’t on the same par with where he was when he gave his teammate a run for his money in 2007. Still, you have to wonder how records he will re-write before the curtain falls. With 64 wins, he sits 8th on the all-time wins list. Next up to pass is the revered seven-time champ Dale Earnhardt at 76. If I was a betting man, I bet he gets there. Seven championships? That’s another story. Petty was ahead of his time and dominated his way through a long peak of performance. For a shorter period, Earnhardt had the bull by the horns. In that era, the Intimidator had the likes of Waltrip, Wallace, Allison, Kulwicki, Martin and later, Gordon to push him.
In this day and age, Johnson has his work cut out for him in terms of the competition. Tony Stewart is a pure racer, Kyle Busch has yet to hit his apex yet (and he’ll be scary when he does), not to mention a whole host of other championship caliber competitors- Kenseth, Keselowski, Harvick, and the list goes on.
You can say what you will about the Chase, Chad Knaus, Hendrick Motorsports, but its not Knaus or Hendrick who drive the cars. I am fully convinced they could undo the Chase today, and Jimmie Johnson would find another way to get there.
That’s what winners do. Jimmie Johnson just wins races.