Domination. It is in part defined as the exercise of control or power. Jimmie Johnson and Chad Knaus and the 48 displayed a powerful visual demonstration of domination Sunday at Dover, with the five-time champion picking up his 57th career win, leading 289 out of 400 laps, sailing away on every restart.
In the annals of NASCAR history, others have dominated, whether it be Buck Baker, Richard Petty, Dale Earnhardt or Jeff Gordon. While legendary, no one quite sustained a run like the one Johnson enjoyed from 2006 through 2010. Such were his fortunes that a frustrated Kevin Harvick surmised that the champ had a “golden horseshoe” hidden in a place where the sun doesn’t shine. I admit it’s tempting to apply a colorful nickname former President Bush had for advisor Karl Rove, “turd blossom,” a Texas term for a flower blooming from a cow pie.
Tempting as that may be, such notions sell short what this team accomplishes. In reality, this is why luck has very little to do with it.
While other teams are consistently competitive, the 48 team consistently wins because they are bold, and prepared for the moment. After Sunday’s win, crew chief Knaus said, “We were trying a different set up and Jimmie felt like we needed to do something different. He made a big call personally for us to shift the setup in the race car and we did and he felt like it was some big changes. So we had to significantly change the race car once we got here. First in qualifying, Jimmie did a great job with the car then and that led us down the path we were today. Man, it went great. It went really well.”
If something isn’t working, they’re not afraid to cut and go another way. Think about the crew swap with Jeff Gordon in the 2010 Chase. It was a bold move, and it may have hurt some feelings, but it paid dividends.
It’s not that other drivers and crews don’t take chances, it’s just that there those who can see the big picture wrapped inside a moment. Looking ahead, Johnson says, “We need to keep the pressure on and roll into September with the same thing going on in order to win a championship. When you look at what Tony and Carl went through last year, that's a perfect example. You just don't show up and think everything is going to turn out as you hoped. You have to get in there and race hard for all ten races.”
It’s a very competitive field this year. With his win at Dover, Johnson joins Denny Hamlin, Tony Stewart and Brad Keselowski as the series’ leaders in victories with two each. As had been mentioned elsewhere, the fact that Dover is a Chase track is not lost on the 48 team, and the lessons learned in June will provide an invaluable foundation for the end of September. He adds, “…I think things are very good for our company. We know the areas where we found some raw speed and now we are fine-tuning from there.”
Getting to the top is tough; just ask the NBA’s Miami Heat. Staying on top? That’s even tougher; just ask Tony Stewart right about now. With the ability to balance the grand scheme with the moment, Jimmie Johnson and Company are well-poised to take back the Sprint Cup championship. while luck is welcomed, very little of it is needed.
Other articles by Jim McCoy include:
Kahne & Francis: NASCAR's Most Underrated Duo?
Wallace Makes Big First Step Without Stumbling
NASCAR' Problem Deeper Than The COT
Jim McCoy is a TV and radio sports anchor living in Oregon with his wife and three kids. Jim also moonlights as a radio play-by-play man and writes about his true sports passion: NASCAR. To paraphrase, racing is a sport, the others are just games.