The Frontstretch: Five Reasons Why Johnson's Chase For History Is Chasing Away NASCAR's Fan Base by Thomas Bowles -- Monday October 5, 2009

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Five Reasons Why Johnson's Chase For History Is Chasing Away NASCAR's Fan Base

Bowles-Eye View · Thomas Bowles · Monday October 5, 2009


Tony Stewart won the race at Kansas, but much of the focus continues to revolve around the man who finished 9th. After leading for much of the day Sunday, Jimmie Johnson’s team opened the door to their rivals with a rare pit road strategy mistake, with a four-tire stop at the wrong time keeping them from whooping the field and all but officially taking control of their bid for four straight titles. Considering the No. 48 car’s track record (and entering the day as the race’s defending champ) this race was where most of its competitors expected the door to get slammed in their face. Instead, Johnson left them all with a ray’s worth of hope going forward.

But at this point, that’s all it is. The reigning champ leaves Kansas second in the points, just 18 out of the lead and with the best average finish this season (9.8) of all 12 Chasers at the next six tracks on the schedule. As the Cup Series moves on to California this Sunday, he still must be considered the prohibitive favorite … and until he’s not, millions of fans will end up turning off their televisions because of it.

That attitude begs a simple question from a journalist’s standpoint: why? The answer seems so easy – the No. 48 has been too dominant for too long — but it’s really a lot more complex. Most times in sports, the quest to make history has captivated Americans in record numbers. The battle to set the home run record arguably saved the game of baseball in the late 1990s, while the Bulls’ run to six titles in eight years fueled the NBA’s growth in that same era. Even when a team is hated for their perfection, millions still wind up watching in disgust. For example, the Pats don’t exactly have a warm and fuzzy face to the world under the introvert coach Bill Belichick, but their run of perfection up to the Super Bowl had everyone tuning in record numbers just to see if someone could beat them.

Yet in NASCAR, as Johnson goes for a record that’s never been accomplished before in 60 years, the reaction from most fans is … indifference. We’ve got a team that’s on a pace to leave their driver third on the all-time win list by age 40, a man in Johnson himself who at the end of the year would have more Cup titles than anyone not named Gordon, Earnhardt or Petty … and yet, the reaction to so many people reading is, “Who cares?”

With the privilege of being at the track week in, week out, I’ve talked to a lot of fans, as well as people inside and outside the sport to try and get a sense of why the Jimmie Johnson phenomenon isn’t taking off. Some reasons are silly, others serious, but they all point to a pattern that has yet to be stopped – and gives us some insight into the current decline of NASCAR as a whole.

Here, then, are five reasons why the four-peat has flattened fans’ interest in the sport:

No. 1 – People think crew chief Chad Knaus is cheating.

In eight years of writing, I can honestly tell you this email, comment, conversation comes up the most the second you say the words, “Jimmie Johnson.” As recently as this past weekend, fans were all fired up about the latest “Bad Chad” incident in which NASCAR warned the No. 48 and No. 5 teams they came close to failing inspection, coming to within less than 1/8 of an inch of meeting NASCAR’s template off the center line of the car.

Now, to say Knaus is cheating off this latest incident is arguable at best (My take: of course they came close to failing inspection! You’re not winning championships unless you’re pushing everything you got to the ragged edge.) But the public perception battle Knaus faces is an uphill one he’ll never win. Twice during Johnson’s title-winning run the crew chief has been suspended six weeks for legitimate rules violations, including at the sport’s biggest race, the 2006 Daytona 500.

After those two instances, well … in the world of sports culture today, it’s one of guilty until proven innocent. Look at baseball, where one claim of steroids use taints a player’s career and may very well keep them from reaching their ultimate goal, the Hall of Fame. Sure, a 50-game suspension allows them to get a second chance, but in the eyes of the fans, they’re already tainted for life.

That’s the problem right now with the No. 48. Too many fans think they’re tainted … but unlike with steroids, the drug causing Johnson’s “success” (Knaus) hasn’t been removed. He’s just become one of the main leaders in the whole Hendrick organization, and that’s continued to make a whole lot of people mad.

As in, turn off the television when it’s Chase time mad.

No. 2 – Johnson is the poster child for a system fans hate to begin with.

It’s another column for another day, but when looking at ratings and attendance alone – nothing more – there’s a compelling case to say fans are unhappy at best with the Chase format. (Latest example: New Hampshire’s 2.5 initial rating was 17 percent lower than in 2003, the year before the playoff format was adopted).
What does Jimmie Johnson have to do with that? Nothing; it’s not his fault these rules were adopted. But the No. 48 is the best at using the rules to their advantage, and that’s what makes the fans so disgruntled. Perhaps there’s no better example than 2006, when Johnson had just one win but four second-place finishes en route to winning his first title. In a system where playing it safe for “points” is rewarded with the championship trophy, Johnson will choose consistency over combativeness any day, knowing when to back off for a seventh-place run instead of fighting tooth and nail for sixth.

Again, you can’t blame them for setting that philosophy; under this system, it’s genius, to the point other drivers (Juan Pablo Montoya most recently) have followed the same pattern to secure their spot in the top 12.

Looking to play copycat? It’s easy. Basically, that strategy can be boiled down to the following:

  • Focus hard on the Chase races in the first half of the season. Those are test sessions for the real races that’ll decide the championship in the Fall.
  • If you can win, great. If you have a top 5 car, don’t bother fighting for more; you need to have those points to make the Chase in case you have a bad day. It doesn’t hurt to finish second if you have a second place car.
  • Don’t get overaggressive on the race track until you’re assured a spot in the playoffs. Then and only then can chances be taken (gambles like the fuel mileage in Michigan and other experiments the No. 48 used in August and September which had those not schooled in the way they do things thinking they were off-balance heading into the Chase).

But this success has come with disastrous consequences. We have a whole legion of championship-contending cars now treating their races like fragile, broken glass, afraid to make any moves until the final 50 laps if they’re in a top 5 or top 10 position that’ll get them a good “points day.” Fans understand Johnson’s success is at the root of all that, because any good racer knows the second someone finds an advantage, it’s getting copied the next day.

And so, the No. 48 in their pursuit of a title (unjustly or not) becomes the focus of fans’ anger concerning boring races. For if you hate the team playing by the rules you hate, it’s only natural you despise the march towards a record that wouldn’t be achieved if those rules were different. (For those who forget, Johnson’s second title in 2007 would have gone to Jeff Gordon under the old format).

No. 3 – It’s keeping Dale Earnhardt, Jr. from winning.

Look, I said at the start of this column some of these reasons weren’t exactly “logical.” But my job is to report what I see and observe around the circuit. Let’s start with some basic facts before we go crazy:

* Dale Earnhardt, Jr. moved over to Hendrick in 2008 with the goal of winning a championship.

  • Since then, he’s had a worse two-year stretch (21 top 10s in ’08-’09 as opposed to 29 in ’06-’07) then his horrible ending with DEI, in which he left because the equipment wasn’t up to par compared to some other organizations.
  • Rick Hendrick has never had all four of his cars in the Chase.
  • Dale Earnhardt, Jr. is NASCAR’s Most Popular Driver.

All of that has left a large group of fans really disgruntled, some of whom won’t bother to turn on the TV the last ten races simply because their man isn’t in the playoffs. What’s tops among their long legion of complaints?

“Junior’s not getting the same equipment as everyone else on the team.”

Considering the information sharing and open book policy at Hendrick, that’s a very tough statement to back up with actual facts. But that’s the type of criticism that’ll happen (fairly or unfairly) when you put four All-Stars on the same team, because NASCAR is an individual sport at its core. Only one of those guys can win the title, and for the other three they’re left to answer the questions of why they didn’t keep up.

Well, in almost two years Junior and the No. 88 have consistently come up short, and as long as the Johnson-Knaus duo exists chances are their biggest obstacle in winning a title comes from within their own organization. This leaves many Junior fans feeling like their man made a mistake, thinking Hendrick’s playing favorites with the No. 48. I’ve even heard some people go so far as to call Junior’s car “Jimmie Johnson’s R & D.”

Now, anyone with any actual insight into Hendrick knows Junior’s not being used as an R & D effort. But remember those fans I mentioned before? They’re already calling me an idiot for attempting to discredit their argument; and believe me, there’s a heck of a lot of them who feel this way.

In sports and in life, perception can mean everything. And until Junior puts a kink into Johnson’s armor, that’s going to be hard to break, leaving them turning the channel the second he turns on the jets. After all, he’s about to break a record they feel their own driver will never achieve as long as both are housed under the same roof.

No. 4 – Johnson doesn’t have a rivalry.

OK, quick show of hands … who hates Jimmie Johnson? No, not in the stands silly, in the garage! The answer, to be honest, isn’t a whole lot of people. Greg Biffle has been in the news lately, trying to stir up trouble with Johnson’s extra on-track tire test at Dover he claims gave him an edge on the rest of the field this September. Denny Hamlin has also raised a bit of a stink, and then we can’t forget about a few on-track bumps between Johnson and Kurt Busch over the summer.

At least his wife loves him. But Johnson’s calm demeanor isn’t much for fans to get excited about and get behind as he fights for title number four.

Still, looking at the big picture, the No. 48 team just doesn’t have a consistent rival they’re battling on the racetrack week in, week out over the past three years. Each year, it’s been a different driver after the No. 48: Matt Kenseth/Jeff Burton in 2006, Jeff Gordon in 2007, Carl Edwards in 2008, and now Mark Martin/Juan Pablo Montoya this year. It’s a testament to Johnson’s longevity … but it’s also not as good at creating a compelling storyline. Yankees / Red Sox, for all its detractors, gets the biggest audience for a reason: it’s a rivalry people grasp with passionate feelings on both sides.

I just don’t think we get that in NASCAR when people talk about Jimmie Johnson vs., well, anyone.

No. 5 – Johnson’s personality.

So many journalists have hammered this point home, so many times, but the sad fact remains Johnson is racing’s equivalent of the NBA’s San Antonio Spurs. Great person, great team: but with about as much drama surrounding it as a public library at 3:00 in the afternoon. America loves a feel good story, but in sports it needs to come with a whole lot of emotion attached. And for the soft-spoken Johnson, an ingrained notion of political correctness combined with the fact he’s in a difficult spot (not yet veteran leader, not “aggressive young gun”) leaves him in this awkward in-between where he doesn’t even have the biggest voice within his own organization. Johnson may break the records of an Earnhardt or Petty someday, but his personality just doesn’t have that “it” factor they had to get fans running to the race track or even their television sets to see what’s happening.

That off-track demeanor often translates into Johnson’s racing style. He’s not flashy, and very rarely will muscle a guy out of the way in order to get the win. He’s also as calculated a driver as he is clean: when’s the last time you saw Johnson spin somebody outside of Daytona and Talladega? It’s a great legacy he’s building within the sport – just nothing anyone appears to be interested in.

People (Johnson fans especially) misinterpret this line of thinking to mean that nobody appreciates the three-time champ. That couldn’t be farther from the truth; after all, there is a huge difference between hatred and indifference. Over in the NBA, you have a good amount of core fans who like the Spurs, just like Johnson will always have his true fans. But the amount of fans in San Antonio compared to New York or elsewhere … well, that’s the reason we call them “small market” and “big market” teams. And for the past four years, you’ve had an uninspiring Johnson, the equivalent of that “small market,” attempting to sustain the growth of the second-biggest sport in America with his success. That’s just not going to happen … sorry.

As I write this piece, I think back to Sprint Cup Media Day a few weeks ago and how different drivers were swarmed by writers like a flock of sheep. Juan Pablo Montoya had so many reporters around him, I wondered how he could breathe. Yet an hour later, Johnson sat in that same spot and maybe half as many people cared. Instead of being excited about the possibility of history being made, it looked like those in attendance were simply tired about the story in general: and these are the reporters, where it’s our job to try and tell great stories. If so many can’t get excited about it, one can only wonder about the fan base itself …

With the series headed to California, there are still eight drivers who could leave that track atop the standings. Mark Martin is still in first place, with Montoya and former champions Tony Stewart and Busch within striking distance. But until Jimmie Johnson’s name falls out of contention, there’s an air of inevitability surrounding the quest for number four that remains. And for better or for worse, that’s keeping this year’s on-track Chase from showing any off-track signs of life — even with a story that should be as groundbreaking as the record it’s trying to achieve.

Tom Bowles is now on Twitter! Click HERE to become a follower… even though he’s still learning how to use it (be patient on that one!)

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Today on the Frontstretch:
Did You Notice? … Breaking Down A Sprint Cup Season Eight Races In
Beyond the Cockpit: Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. on Growing Up Racing and Owner Loyalties
The Frontstretch Five: Flaws Exposed In the New Chase So Far
NASCAR Writer Power Rankings: Top 15 After Darlington
NASCAR Mailbox: Past Winners Aren’t Winning …. Yet
Open Wheel Wednesday: How Can IndyCar Stand Out?


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10/05/2009 06:33 AM

Another reason no one seems to care (except the media, that is) about JJ winning 4 titles in a row is that many fans just don’t feel that a 10 race ‘champ’ under the new format is anything close to winning a title that takes an entire season to win. Even Jeff Gordon admitted that, if he won this year, he wouldn’t consider he won 5 championships…he would have won 4 Winston Cup titles, and one Sprint Cup title. I guess it’s not just the fans that feel the new format gives you a watered down title that isn’t really deserving of being compared to the ‘old’ way.

Turn 2 Racing
10/05/2009 06:46 AM

I used to dislike JJ for most of the reasons mentioned in this article. I used to feel the same way about Jeff Gordon mostly because he wasn’t a Petty or Earhardt. But that said the consistent performance by both these Hendrick racers has earned my respect. Sure I would like to see Dale Jr have more success. But it just proves there are many more variables to winning than just having top notch equipment.

10/05/2009 07:28 AM

Why do people think of Knaus and the 48 team as cheaters? Maybe because we know they are.

M.B. Voelker
10/05/2009 07:28 AM

Its not that Jimmie Johnson is a naturally boring person. Matt Kenseth is naturally boring and no one hates him for it.

Its that Jimmie is boring on purpose and by design. He’s admitted to being a different person away from the track and to intentionally presenting the bland and sponsor-friendly facade.

Unlike a lot of non-Jimmie fans I actually quite like Chad Knaus. He’s got personality, flair, and passion.

But rooting for Jimmie would be like rooting for a department store manikin — bland good looks in shiny plastic that conceals what really lies beneath.

If Homestead comes down to yet another Jimmie Johnson runaway I’ll probably watch anyway because a driver I care about might win the race. But the Championship history-making will be yawn-inducing instead of exciting.

10/05/2009 07:52 AM

All the races are just so boring now. Not much passing (except towards the back). No excitement from the drivers – they are just turning laps and heading home after their 500 mile drive. More and more people are not going to the races or watching on TV – and it is not just the economy causing it.

The Turnip
10/05/2009 08:10 AM

Actually I like the Chad & Jimmie show, won’t watch it/them, but they know what they are doing!

Dear old Chad is a GENIUS!

But remember, this is NA$CRAP! Where the racing overall is boring and contrived!

10/05/2009 08:53 AM

Good article. Yep, pretty much sums up why I’m not bothering to watch the “chase”. It’s not interesting. Can’t blame Chad and Jimmie for playing by the idiot rules NASCAR made up. And yes, I’m one of the people who believes this is a watered down championship. The trophy goes to the 10 race points leader, not to best racer all season. I’ve completely lost interest and the all-chase, all the time, tv coverage doesn’t help.

Carl D.
10/05/2009 09:27 AM

How about the fact that Hendrick, with a gazillion dollars at his disposal and Brian France in his pocket, can pretty much buy himself a Sprint Cup championship year after year.

Remember when they reduced the number of teams an owner can have from five to four? Roush had five teams, Hendrick four. Coincidence? I think not, and I’m no fan of Jack Roush either.

It’s not JJ per se that’s bad for Nascar, it’s the fact that the big money super teams have made a mockery of a sport where a guy like Bill Elliott and Alan Kulwicki could come in and, with hard work and determination, make an impact without spending a king’s ransom. Rick Hendrick is the poster boy for what Nascar has become… a rich man’s pastime.

10/05/2009 09:44 AM

Reason number 6. The media keeps telling everyone to not like JJ. If you wrote articles about everything that was great about him all the time, that would rub in. Just like the media elected Obama. Now days the media drives everything.

10/05/2009 09:53 AM

I notice you forgot to mention that while Knaus has only been suspended twice , he’s been caught cheating many , many times . Sorry to kill your attempt at putting a shining face on the 48 team .

10/05/2009 09:59 AM

Oh, I so agree with Linda. The media tells us to believe this crap. It’s the Jimmie spin….that vanilla stuff. People hear it and hear it and hear it, until it is the accepted story, just like Mark is now anointed the “sentimental favorite”. It isn’t us telling the media what we think, it is the media telling us what we think….but we aren’t even aware of it. Jimmie could be exciting if the media decided to make him so.

10/05/2009 10:18 AM

Hey, it’s nascar that created JJ. I don’t blame him one bit. He knows how to play the game.

The chase system has drivers “points racing” more than the old system. Plus the chase is full of boring tracks (of which I include ‘dega) I mean, Auto Club Speedway?

10/05/2009 10:50 AM

Probably the biggest reason and also ignored by the media is: Hendrick uses his vast wealth to buy all his wins, money that he took illegally and spent a paltry $250, 000 to BUY a pardon from Clinton!! He is a convicted felon and would NOT be allowed into most other sports!!
Johnson is his poster boy, trying to get Hendrick respectability! Even us red neck race fans are NOT that dumb!!

10/05/2009 10:55 AM

There is another reason. To me Jimmie is the beneficiary of too many 1.5-mile tracks on the schedule. That and he has a crew chief willing to cheat to get the job done. Not to say that Jimmie isn’t a good driver; he is a very good driver, but I wouldn’t put him in the same category as JeffG, Tony, or even Shrub. Cale’s 3-peat is definately more impressive than Jimmie’s.

When schedule triumphs over talent, people tune out.

PS: The only thing keeping Jr from winning is Jr.

10/05/2009 11:39 AM

something just doesn’t add up with this 48 team. If you pay close attention to each week, they roll off the truck and are at the top of the speed charts nearly every track, nearly every practice session. And if they are not at the top, you’ll never see his name far down the list. Every track, every year, same thing. They are way ahead before the race even starts. I don’t get it. These cars are supposed to be all equal, how can one car consistently be so much better than the rest nearly all the time? I cannot fathom that in this level of competition that Johnson is just that much better of a driver than the rest. That car obviously has something the others don’t as how can one car out of 43 be at the top of the speed chart weekly. Can Chad Knaus really be that much better of a crew chief than all the others? Or has he found something that Nascar hasn’t yet? Unfortunately with Knaus’s checkered past, I still view JJ win’s as “questionable”. I’d like to see what he can do in a car that is not under the control of Knaus. Whenever JJ runs the Nationwide, he doesn’t exactly stink up the show, so if his driving ability is so vastly superior to the rest, then why isn’t he stinking up the show? Unfortunately the dominance of the 48 team is hurting the sport because people don’t want to go to a race and see the same car up front every single week. It’s not good for fans and its not good for sponsors, and something just doesn’t add up.

10/05/2009 11:55 AM

Funny thing. JJ is disliked in spite of the media’s hard work trying to sell him to us. Jr is loved in spite of the media’s hard work trying to make him irrelevant to his fans.

10/05/2009 12:56 PM

Yea, the indifference is there as plain as day. It’s not just Johnson. It’s the sport itself. nas$car has become boring the last few years. Another thing to sum it up. Carl Long gets caught cheating and he’s hammered. Johnson cheats and he gets hearty “please don’t do that again”. Enough said.

Kevin in SoCal
10/05/2009 01:02 PM

Ginger, I think you have that backwards. Junior is irrelevant and the media is doing their best to keep him in the story so his fans have something to make them continue watching.

10/05/2009 01:04 PM

I think many of us tune out because we are sick of the media constantly talking about JJ, they’ve all but automatically given the Chase to him. Hell, some of them were ready to crown him king before they even turned a wheel at Daytona. I’m sick of ‘it’s Johnson’s to lose’ because no, it isn’t. It is Mark Martin’s to lose. JJ in the Chase so far: 4th, 1st, 9th. Mark: 1st, 2nd, 7th. Who’s numbers are better? You can’t compare Mark this year to Mark in years past because he has a different attitude than I’ve ever seen him have and this is the first year with equal equipment to JJ. Until the checker waves at Homestead, it isn’t over. After this season is done, I have an idea, let’s save all the teams money and not race at all next year, just have the media present JJ with the trophy and we can all go watch reruns of 1992, that was a championship battle. Allison vs Elliot vs Kulwicki. Oh yeh, I remember that year, the 7 car didn’t have a prayer to win the Cup…

Bill B
10/05/2009 01:14 PM

I’d have to chime in that it is the chase format that keeps me from being more excited about JJ. There is no doubt that what they are doing is special but it can not be compared to the pre-chase system and therefore no one really knows how special it is on the grand scheme of things. Will multiple championships become the norm in this new chase system or will it be 20 years before someone wins multiple chase championships? No matter what though, no one can deny the 48 team’s excellence.

10/05/2009 01:45 PM

The biggest problem I see is Who gives a flying flip about the Chase or any other playoff system, I watch to see racing but they can’t be bothered to show any, they are to busy running out graphics and stats about the “wonderful” 12 chase drivers, WHO CARES !! Show us some racing and the playoffs will take care of themselves.

10/05/2009 02:04 PM

How in the world could you compare Johnsons 3 straigt titles to Cales?? He won all 3 in the stupid chase crap, it isnt even the same racing and further more,if you dont think they get special treatment, they get caught out and out cheating at Daytona, what does Nascar do, they suspend Knaus and then give the damm car back to the team so Johnson can win the 500, does anyone else see a problem with that?? In a sentence, the chase garbage is a joke, Nascar wanted it and they can now look at all the empty seats and low TV ratings each week. They can fool themselves all they want and say it is the ecomony but sorry that does not fly.

John Potts
10/05/2009 02:11 PM

Four out of five ain’t bad, Tom. I just can’t accuse Chad of cheating. More like “working” the system.

Bob M
10/05/2009 03:05 PM

Responding to Mike 10/5 11:39; I read somewhere (can't recall where) a couple of weeks back that Hendrick has developed and is using a special made radiator rated 50psi, vs. the standard 15psi (give or take). This enables them to use more tape on nose, as the engine has more cooling capacity than the other radiator, and get better downforce. Article said that special made radiator is 15K, vs. $1,200 for standard, so smaller teams (if they even know about it) could not afford to use these expensive radiators. Again, wish I could remember where I read this (on Jaycki somewhere), but looked and can not find it.

10/05/2009 03:21 PM

I’m just tired of JJ winning, probably a lot like Earnhardt fans were tired of Jeff Gordon winning a decade ago.

The “three-peat” was somewhat interesting – when the record was tied. But For the fourth year in a row, now, the end of the season seems to be all Johnson, all the time.

This week Kyle Busch tied and broke a Sam Ard record in the Nationwide series. We won’t have to listen to talk of that record for the next 52 weeks, though!

Doug Rice
10/05/2009 04:33 PM

A very thought provoking article and extremely well stated. Jimmie’s run has remarkable and his numbers staggering but there does seem to be a missing element, paying the price for being non-controversial.

10/05/2009 05:03 PM

,The chase itself,is, and always has been the problem. Will anyone ever figure out that fans connect with drivers,win or lose?The top 35 makes it even worse,and until Nascar and the media gets what interests the average fan,loyal to their drivers ,nothing gets better. We would love to see driver intro, instead of talking heads, by the way. For new fans that would put a face on that car number and name . Fat chance.

10/05/2009 05:13 PM

Kevin in SoCal, yeah dude. That’s the reason Jr is the MPD and JJ is struggling to retain 8th. We don’t pay attention to the tripe the media is selling.

10/05/2009 05:44 PM

I’m torn on this. To be honest, the reason I’m not NEARLY as fanatical as I used to be is because the racing these days SUCKS. When was the last time we saw a finish like Busch vs Craven? How many boring runaway victories do we have to sit through now? I Tivo most races now and I inevitably FF all the way to the last 25 laps or so and when it’s all over with, I honestly dont’ feel like I’ve missed much.
RE: Johnson, his goody-two-shoes public persona is just….uninteresting. And dominance in motorsports, to me, is bad. I recall how awful F1 was when Schumi won 4 titles in a row. Now, with him gone we’re being treated to a GREAT season. Anyway, Johnson has intentionally made himself way too vanilla, while being a demon behind the wheel. That combo is just, well, dull. I hate to say that, as I’m sure he’s a great guy to hang with.

10/05/2009 07:04 PM

Lee Spencer reported that the 48 & 5 were taken to the R&D center again this week. I can’t help but think that Nascar will find a way to break up Chad & JJ if they win again this year. Marybeth

10/05/2009 07:57 PM

Put Jimmie and Jeff in cars that aren’t Hendrick’s and see how good they do. Every driver who has driven for Hendrick has won and 3 have won Championships and Martin could very well make it 4 drivers. A great driver in a Cobalt will always lose a race to a good driver in a Corvette.

10/05/2009 08:18 PM

Lee Spencer reported that the 48 & 5 were taken to the R&D center again this week. I can’t help but think that Nascar will find a way to break up Chad & JJ if they win the championship again this year. Marybeth

10/05/2009 09:47 PM

Johnson’s Championships ARE as tainted as a steroid fueled Home Run record. And this latest question about Knaus’s car just bolsters the idea that NA$CAR wants a 4 time Chump and will do anything to get it.
I’ve been a long time Martin fan but if he ends up winning the Chumpionship, I won’t celebrate. Thanks to the Chase. No driver will be a true Champion unless he beats everyone in a full season. Not the drivers fault, thank Brian France.

10/06/2009 02:09 AM

I just have to laugh at how people think. They put blinders on and see only what they want to see. They act like no other crew chief ever pushed the evenlope, its cheating when Chad does it. Jimmie has won and people just cant stand someone who wins all the time unless its the driver they like. People hated when Jeff won all the time, what about when Petty and Earnhart won all the time, is that any different? I suppose their crew chiefs didnt do anything in the gray area. Oh yeah thats different. Jimmie Johnson is a great driver and a great person, you people that think he has no personality havent got a clue. I wish the media would stop telling us Nascar is going to fall apart because of Jimmie Johnson, yeah its all his fault. I guess people think he should just stop doing his job. He is suppose to win thats what they do. I dont know who the media is asking but I dont know anyone that going to quit watching Nascar because Jimmie is winning to much.. His time will end, but in the mean time people need deal with it. hateing someone because he’s good at what he does or because his personality isnt to your liking is just plain ignorant. Maybe if you plan on leaving Nascar because of something so ridulous you werent a very good fan anyway…

10/06/2009 07:59 AM

I wanted to see the post race interview of the 3rd place finisher. But had to wait untill all of hendicks boys got mic time. Sure has the look of “the HMS Series”. It darn sure slants that way. tou’d have to be dead not to notice.

10/07/2009 07:15 PM

Jimmie and Jeff are the Vance and Coy of NASCAR.

L Keedy
10/09/2009 01:23 AM

Go back to NASCAR roots No more air impacts,use 4way lug wrenches.More interesting to watch.Last 100 laps 4 tires or no tires,stops this slick “strategy” wins.Put winning in the hands of the car and driver stop this “ who pulled a fast one” to get the win. I shouldn’t have to watch a fuel economy race win,boring, the opposite of what a race car is.Most times now the best car and driver don’t win.I can’t get NASCAR races on the radio anymore,no stations around here carry it any more,why? THATS WHY NASCAR IS LOSING FANS!

Joe Lancaster
10/09/2009 01:46 PM

The recent discussions that I have read in the last couple of years seem to resound the notion that the sport is heading toward franchising. The next thing that will occur is there will be a draft for up and coming drivers. The numbers are there, as evidenced by the merger and consolidation of the larger teams. Yates, Petty, Evernham, Roush, DEI. This realignment sets the stage for franchising in a quantitative stage. Now all is left is for them to name it franchising, followed by qualitative measures that level the playing field. VOILÀ! Franchised racing.


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