Just like the race in Texas, Jimmie Johnson was the subject of the race all day in Phoenix… Except this time, he dominated the field and extended his points lead almost locking out everyone but Mark Martin, (and still, hardly anyone appreciates what he, Chad Knaus and the #48 Team are accomplishing.
I have to be honest; I only watched every lap of the race just in case something happened that would tighten the Chase points’ situation going into Homestead. At the end, (and I have to be honest, once again), I was definitely pulling for Jimmie Johnson to stay ahead of Denny Hamlin and, (since I’m trying to be extremely truthful here), I was hoping the top three in the Chase would finish 1-2-3 in the Checker O’Reilly Auto Parts 500. Now, I know that many will find that strange, and I won’t try to explain it any further, but I was and that is all there is to it.
I do find it interesting that so many people look for any kind of reason to talk negatively about Jimmie Johnson and the possibility of him winning his fourth Cup Championship in a row. They can name any number of reasons why they don’t like him, why “they think” he isn’t popular and why “they don’t think” he deserves the Championship. I’ve heard just about every excuse from he is “to refined” to the fact that he is “too relaxed.” Some have said he is “too Corporate” and others say he isn’t “transparent enough.” I’ve even heard some say maybe people would like him more if he would get into trouble. I don’t know what kind of trouble they want him to get into, but, it appears he just doesn’t cause enough trouble either on, or off, the track for them. In fact, some even blame him and the #48 team for the empty seats in the stands and the reduced TV viewing audience simply because they have won three Championships in a row and are going for that historic fourth one. Honestly, I’ve never heard so many ridiculous statements in my life.
Is it possible, Jimmie Johnson, Chad Knaus and the #48 team are victims of their own success? Is it possible that Nascar fans have forgotten the way the races used to go, sometimes with several laps separating the field from the winners of the races?
You see, “back in the day” (as some would say), people liked Richard Petty and many were fans, but there were those that didn’t appreciate the fact the he was always winning and wanted to see someone else win a race (especially if it was their favorite driver.) Still there was no denying his greatness and those 200 victories and seven championships speak awfully loud about his domination during a time when Nascar wasn’t so visible as it is now.
I think many have become numb to the fact that competition in Nascar has become so close in the last several years that it is harder than ever to win, and especially to win on a consistent basis. No one can say the #48 team has lucked into this possibility of winning their fourth Championship in a row. They have worked hard and out-performed the rest of the contenders on a regular basis, especially when it counted. And to those that say Nascar chose the tracks for the Chase because they were Jimmie Johnson’s best tracks and they were trying to manipulate all this multiple championship run for Hendrick Motorsports, I say a loud, “Give me a break!”
All of the teams know what tracks they will face in the Chase and every one of them has an opportunity to perform well at them, too. It may be just my opinion, (although I don’t think it is), Jimmie Johnson, Chad Knaus and the entire #48 team do everything they can to perform well every week and especially at the last ten tracks they face in the Chase. In fact, I’ll go so far as to say, the whole Hendrick organization does the same, (just look at the fact that three out of the four Hendrick teams are running 1-2-3 in the Chase.) It’s just that the #48 team seems to be communicating better, making their own breaks at times and simply just not having the problems and inconsistencies the rest are having, (something that can’t be said, at least for the moment, for the #88 Hendrick team of Dale Jr.)
Now, no matter how “over” the Chase may look, Texas proved disasters can still strike and things can still happen in Homestead that even Jimmie Johnson and Chad Knaus can’t control. Admittedly, Phoenix proved this team is on top of their game. Barring the unforeseen, and understanding the #48 team has to finish 25th or better to take the historic fourth Cup Championship in a row, makes this fan believe Jimmie Johnson will be the Sprint Cup Champion for 2009… BUT… will he be?
I guess we’ll just have to go through the motions, watch the race and see what happens, huh? Ain’t Nascar Great!!!
See ya next time… Rusty
(all views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer)
© November 18, 2009 – all rights reserved
Just A Fan’s View and Rusty Norman