You may not like where he’s from- “Southern California is for wigged out movie stars and surfer dudes” some lament. You may not care for his demeanor- his cool comes off to some as either smug or bland. You may detest his employer- yours truly is beginning to think Mr. Hendrick’s first name is “Felon.” For years, detractors have tried to wrinkle their noses at his accomplishments, but Sunday’s race at Texas bears it out…..
Jimmie Johnson is undeniably the best racer in NASCAR today. When he’s on- which occurs on an alarmingly regular basis- you can’t do a thing with him.
We won’t even get into the statistics, which are ample evidence enough all on their own. He’s just 38 years old, and yet with 10 more wins, Johnson pulls even with the late, great Dale Earnhardt. With two more titles, he earns a tie with The Intimidator and Richard Petty for the most season’s titles with seven. Chase or no Chase; heck, even if they went with the mind-numbingly crazy fractional point system of days gone by, he’d win that way. One of the things “Five Time” has proven is that he can take whatever circumstances are handed him and make it work to his advantage.
What is also impressive is his resilience. After stinking up the show for an unprecedented five seasons in a row, it’s easy to forget that Johnson is in a (by his standards) drought, with his last championship year in 2010. For many who have come this way before, a couple of years without a title would be enough to incite panics, shake ups, needless tweaking with the winning formula- often producing a counterproductive result. How about his bounce back during the Chase after a one month stretch of futility? The El Cajon native hasn’t lost his Midas touch, nor his golden horseshoe.
How about the consistency? Five season titles in a row is proven performance.
Johnson can get hot too. Of Johnson’s 66 wins, 24 have come during the Chase. Critics call a lot of things; that’s called getting the job done at “Go Time.”
Then there’s the undeniable truism that Johnson’s career is the product of hard work, by himself, by crew chief Chad Knaus and the rest of the 48 team. Did you see this team at work during the race? All but one of the pit stops were precise, as were Johnson’s communications on what the car was doing. He’s a picture of focus lap after lap after lap.
There’s no magic when it comes to winning. The reason why Matt Kenseth has proven such a challenger to Johnson is that this season, the 2003 champion has darn near matched him in every way. It’s made for a compelling season story.
You can truly try all you will to somehow deny his greatness, but it’s just futile. Race after race, season after season, Jimmie Johnson is at or near the top. If you’re not convinced, just stick around, watch and learn.