Monday, July 8, 2013

What Makes Johnson So Good?

How could this man be considered cutthroat?
At the midway point in the 2013 NASCAR season it is becoming increasingly apparent Jimmie Johnson and the No. 48 car are in a class of their own. 

Johnson’s total domination of Saturday night’s Daytona 400 only confirmed what many have already conceded; he’s well on his way to a sixth Sprint Cup championship.  With a little more luck, his four wins in the first 18 races could easily be six, maybe even seven.

So what separates Johnson from the rest?  First, Chad Knaus and company have a leg up on the rest of the garage when it comes to making the extremely aero sensitive Gen 6 car work.   It reminds me of the years Bill Elliott and his Melling Racing Ford put together when the team clearly had an edge on everyone else.   

But most of the credit should go to Johnson himself.  He is calm, calculated and, when he needs to be, cutthroat.  He’ll block, bump, dump or desert any other driver – even a teammate – if that’s what it takes to win a race.  Just ask Jeff Gordon, Dale Earnhardt, Jr. or Kasey Kahne.

I write this with the upmost respect.  I’m no Johnson hater, a line his fans (and, increasingly, Johnson) use all too often in an attempt to deflect any criticism of JJ.  Instead, I see those as traits shared by many previous champions.  Johnson will do exactly what Richard Petty, David Pearson, Cale Yarborough, Dale Earnhardt and others did before him, but too few drivers are willing to do today.  It’s what separates him from most of today’s field.   

I don’t even blame him for the late wreck at Daytona, something others have taken to doing.  With only four laps to go, Johnson left Kahne, who had helped him maintain his lead, to move up to block a fast closing Marcos Ambrose.  Only he went a little too far, allowing Ambrose an opportunity to make it three-wide.  Then he moved slightly to his left, a move calculated to brush against Ambrose and make him think twice about coming up the middle.  Ambrose overthought it, turned hard left into Kahne and sent Johnson’s teammate careening into the wall.

For his part, Johnson thought the move was perfectly acceptable for a restrictor plate race.  In fact, he felt he drove a near perfect race.

“I don’t know if I made a bad move tonight,” he said.  “So I’m pretty proud of that.

Johnson also is smart enough to know everything starts over once The Chase gets underway.

“Tonight’s statement doesn’t send the strongest message,” he said. “It’s really what we do on a mile-and-a-half racetrack. There are more mile-and-a-half racetracks than any other throughout the Chase. That’s the message we want to send and the area that we really need to be buttoned up on.”

Of course, Johnson and the 48 team really shine on the mile-and-a-half tracks.  Not exactly good news for the competition.


  1. I am not a Jimmy Johnson fan , too calculating,too vanilla, no personality. I must admit that he is the best total package driver ever period!!! I have a feeling that he is headed for a downfall because he and the best crew chief in history both have major ego problems. The very thing that makes them unbeatable will also destroy them and that is we will do whatever it takes to win at whatever costs. the saying "no man is an island" is very fitting in sprint cup racing. you can only screw over other drivers and cheat so many times before it will finally take a toll. The evidence is starting to show up with Jimmy whining about the restarts. It is his expectation that he is the supreme champ and should not be treated with such irreverence such as being outsmarted on restarts. Chad knows they are champions because he is the greatest crew chief ever and if these to egos ever clash enough to cause a split it would be the end for both. As a pair they are invincible, individually they are merely great. I write this in jest, but the proof is in the pudding and time will tell""""""""

  2. When you have 15-20+million dollars a year to spend you will have success.Lets see him go over to the Petty camp for a season and see how that works out.

  3. Johnson's a pretty good driver, else he wouldn't be there. But he's driving for the best team in the garage. Probably, 10 or 12 guys in that seat would do as well, and maybe two or three, even better.

  4. Matt Kenseth in the 20 has been just about as good as Johnson this year. its 80% equipment 20% driver

  5. Thanks for sharing. i really appreciate it that you shared with us such a informative post..

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