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For NASCAR’s Jimmie Johnson the Hits Keep Coming: Fan Reaction
When Jimmie Johnson was in the midst of winning five Sprint Cup titles in a row there were many fans, including me, who probably thought that his racing should have been handicapped somehow as he was almost too good. Now those thoughts have come to fruition as one of the biggest names in NASCAR follows a disappointing second lap crash at the 2012 Daytona 500 with an even bigger hit.
The crash, which saw him finish 42nd out of 43 starters and collect only two points toward the championship, was no doubt at the time a disappointment. But, that was quickly followed with some bad news that would make the hard crash he sustained in the race seem like a simple fender bender.
All the fuss actually happened before the running of the Daytona 500 when Jimmie Johnson's car failed a February 17 opening inspection by NASCAR. The inspection deemed that Johnson's car had changes made to the C pillars which were not allowed according to NASCAR rules.
Chad Gone and Jimmie in the Hole
To decipher all the technical talk by NASCAR what this really means for Jimmie Johnson is that he now has to go to the next race, and five more after that, without his crew chief Chad Knaus and will start the next race at -23 points thanks to a 25 point penalty levied by NASCAR. Other fines and suspensions will all be appealed by Hendrick Motorsports, but that is of little solace to Johnson fans or Johnson himself.
NASCAR Sending a Message?
As a fan of NASCAR I am all for the penalties brought against those who cheat. However, according Rick Hendrick, Johnson's car owner , the car had not changed since last season and had raced in last year's Daytona 500 without incident. In fact, Hendrick says the car ran all four super speedway races last season.
Even if that information is not accurate, the alleged infraction was found before the car ever saw any competition so why then is Johnson receiving the points penalty? It seems to me that NASCAR is sending a message and given the fact that they are doing it with a name as big as Jimmie Johnson, I think the message is going to be received loud and clear.
Effect on Johnson
Even though Johnson would surely prefer to have Knaus calling the shots for him in the next six NASCAR events, he will still have no problem making the races themselves. Because of NASCAR rules he is locked into the next four races regardless of where he qualifies on time. After that he could use a past champion's provisional a number of times if needed, though he likely won't require any of that.
Additionally, since NASCAR has the Chase for the Sprint Cup after the first 26 races and all but resets the points at that time, Johnson's gaffe will likely not be an issue assuming he makes the Chase for the Sprint Cup.
In the end this whole mess will likely be a very small speed bump for Jimmie Johnson. After all, Johnson has made every Chase for the Sprint Cup thus far and with five championships under his belt, he will almost certainly persevere.
Jimmy Collins has been a loyal fan of NASCAR since he was a child attending races watching Dale Earnhardt run the famous number 3. He still attends numerous races each season and enjoys writing about NASCAR, particularly in regards to Dale Earnhardt as well as Dale Earnhardt Jr.
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