Every fan of NASCAR should take a few seconds and recognize the historic greatness they saw Sunday when Jimmie Johnson owned the AAA Texas 500.
The dominant win change the way fans will watch the final two races of the 2013 Sprint Cup season, enough so to merit a breakdown, Bert Convy style
Win: Jimmie Johnson
When do we start legitimately start asking if the greatest driver in NASCAR history is staring us square in the face? Johnson’s win wasn’t just a win; it was an empathic marking of territory. This is what Michael Jordan, Dale Earnhardt and Wayne Gretzky did in their primes. Johnson has won more important races; when has he made a bigger statement in winning?
Oh yeah, Johnson also set himself up for a sixth Sprint Cup title regardless of what Matt Kenseth does. Seriously, Kenseth can win the final two races; all Johnson must do is finish fourth and lead a lap. That’s how dominant Sunday’s win was.
Jeff Gordon could have made a movie-making kind of achievement had he gone from out of the Chase to winning a title because of a heavy-handed NASCAR decision. Kyle Busch could have overcome multiple late season swoons. Kevin Harvick could have gone CM Punk on Richard Childress. Two dud tires and one underwhelming performance muted any chance of a historic comeback. Maybe next year.
NASCAR has a rare opportunity on its hands. One of the greatest drivers in the history of its sport is in the middle of his prime, having won or contended for seven of the last eight Sprint Cup titles. Opportunities to ride this kind of lightening are rare.
So why isn’t Jimmie Johnson one of the three, thirteen or thirty most well-known athletes on the planet? People stop to watch LeBron, Kobe, Crosby, Mayweather and Peyton. The only driver to get that kind of recognition is Dale Earnhardt Jr. And while his six runner-up finishes are a great sign for his 2014, Johnson has six wins in 2013. This makes no rational sense.
Jimmie Johnson dropped a hammer in Texas. It was awesome to watch, the kind of things fans will talk about 20 years from now. Let’s hope more fans, steadfast and casual, will take notice of the greatness at hand.