Guess who has the best average finish at three of the next four tracks, and is second-best at the other? I'll give you a hint: His name is not not Jimmie Johnson.
Now, let's get to the mailbag …
Jay, tell me something please. Why are people so afraid of dominance in your sport? I recently looked at the poll results on Yahoo Sports' NASCAR page. The results are that 63% of a little more than 17,000 people do NOT want to see Johnson win his fifth championship. Nearly 11,000 people! If this was any other sport (football, baseball, etc), people would be drooling. Why is dominance looked down upon in NASCAR? What is up?
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The obvious answer is that Jimmie Johnson is simply the wrong guy. In other words, he's not Dale Earnhardt Jr.
The not-so-obvious answer is that 37-percent approval isn't all that bad. You think the New York Yankees would get better than 37-percent approval in a national poll?
We tend to focus on those who don't want Johnson to win because there is no home team to highlight when he does. When the Saints won the Super Bowl last year, all we saw were shots of people doing shots on Bourbon Street. We didn't see the disappointment in Indianapolis, or the general apathy everywhere else.
So yes, the majority of people don't want to see Johnson win again. But is that any different than in any other sport where hometown fans root for their team and root against everyone else?
If Dale Sr. will forever be known as the Intimidator, should Johnson be called the Dominator? He has been a model of domination in NASCAR for the last 4 years and counting. Johnson's style of winning championships isn't as exciting or as hair raising as Earnhardt Sr.'s were. That said, I think Johnson has shown every driver in NASCAR that on race day he can force you into a bad pit gamble, overdrive your car, take a bad line, or just flat out drive you. In my book, that is domination.
Think about an NFL team that wins 4 maybe 5 Super Bowls in a row. That is what we are seeing here … domination.
You don't have to like it, but you should respect it.
And let me address the idea that the reason Johnson dominates is because the Chase tracks suit him well. Yes, they do. But the reality is any combination of 10 tracks would suit Johnson better than everyone else.
As I pointed out following his win Sunday, Johnson has won at all but four tracks on the Cup schedule. Want to know what his average finish is at those four tracks? Chicagoland: 10.0. Homestead-Miami: 12.7. Watkins Glen: 14.7. Michigan: 15.2. To put that in perspective, Kevin Harvick averages better than 15.2 at exactly two of the current Chase tracks. Denny Hamlin has a better average at four.
In other words, NASCAR can change up the tracks – and I think they should for variety's sake alone – but it's not going to change which driver has the best overall average at those tracks, because Johnson is good everywhere.
There may not be a conspiracy in having Johnson win another championship, but debacles like the Clint Bowyer incident last week definitely make it seem like NASCAR is "loading the dice" to favor one or more drivers in winning it all. Inconsistencies like that, and the double standards of whom is "allowed" to wreck whom and get away with it, like phantom debris cautions, all have made me barely watch any of the racing this year. NASCAR may not be the WWE, but it sure seems fishy to me.
What logical reason is there for NASCAR to choose to start the Chase by penalizing the guy who won the first race? Furthermore, why wouldn't they want Clint Bowyer, a likable good-ol'-boy underdog who started the Chase with no apparent shot at winning the title, to be in the championship hunt? And if NASCAR is so hell-bent on "fixing" the Chase so that it's a tight battle, why would they penalize the driver who was second in points?
I could easily go on for another 1,000 words on why this makes no sense, but I don't want to run the risk of having my eyeballs start to bleed. So I'll ask all you conspiracy theorists this: Has NASCAR gotten any positive publicity from penalizing Bowyer?
Jay, you're absolutely right. The reason Jimmie keeps winning, for good or bad for the sport, is that he is singularly focused on his job. No one is in Jimmie's head but himself, but he is definitely on the mind of every other driver on the track. They are focused on unseating Jimmie, not upping their own game.
Is Jimmie boring. Yeah, I guess he is, but his success in undeniable.
I was at Dover yesterday. It wasn't the most exciting race until the final few laps, and then, only if you are a Jimmie fan. Not all that many empty seats, really. No it wasn't a sellout, but there were a LOT of fans there, and the traffic was pretty bad, as usual.
At this point, NASCAR has little to worry about and the ratings will rebound once the other drivers up their games and beat the 48.
So is NASCAR going to inspect Johnson's car this week after winning this race? I'll answer that, NOT!!!!!!!!!!!
Actually they will, C.P. They always inspect the winning car.
Sorry to be stupid, but if Clint cheated to win, why is his win not given to Hamlin? In most other sports, if someone cheats to win, the second place person is moved up to first place, etc. It seems to me like Hamlin and everyone else should gain a few points; not just Clint losing 150 points.
The idea is that if you change the outcome, then you are in essence wiping away what fans at the track paid to see. They paid to see a race to the finish, they saw a winner and NASCAR isn't going to take that away from them.
It's not perfect, but I sort of get it, and I'll explain why after the next email.
Jay, Why is everybody concentrating on Clint Bowyer when Tony Stewart is the real victim after the first Chase race? Since CB's car was illegal (the wrecker messed it up? It hit at the same spot a bump draft would have – come on) that means Tony could have laid back a bit more and saved enough fuel to make it that last lap. Honestly he should get some of those 150 points they took away from Bowyer.
Dan makes a good point. He also inadvertently offers another reason why NASCAR can't change the results post facto. If you take Bowyer out of the equation, it does change the entire complexion of the race. Would Tony Stewart have won? Would he still have run out of gas? What about Jeff Burton? He ran out of gas, too. Would he have saved more fuel allowing him to finish higher than 15th?
We can't know any of these things, which is why what might seem fair to Hamlin – crediting him with the win – wouldn't necessarily be to Stewart, Burton or anyone else for that matter.
Keeping the results as they are is the only way to avoid an even bigger mess. Again, it's not perfect, but it's the most perfect solution to a difficult situation.
They need to inspect Jimmie Johnson's car every week! If not that then inspect ALL 12 of the chase contenders! The excuse of not enough manpower or time does not wash. They inspect 43 cars before the races. So they inspect 12 cars after the race more completely. Should be about the same time involved. Furthermore to eliminate this kind of problem do not have a wrecker push the car. Find a better way.
I agree that a more thorough inspection process would eliminate some of the distrust. But really, how often is post-race inspection this big of an issue?
To me, this is just another example of what a reactionary society we are. When those eight people were killed in the off-roading tragedy in California, all of a sudden society was up in arms over crowd control at off-road races. Never mind that hardly anyone cared enough to make an issue of crowd control the day before the accident.
In the case of post-race inspection, yes, there should be more transparency, but let's not start puffing our chests out acting as though we've given this a lot of thought, especially when NASCAR has put infinitely more thought into it than you and me.
Jay I'm not an expert on NASCAR but I was just wondering how does that small of a height difference make any effect in racing?
Downforce, sideforce, it comes in various versions, but the bottom line is even a small height difference can give you added grip. The more grip you can get, the more your car is going to stick in the corner. And the more your car sticks in the corner, the faster you will go.
Yes, it's only a slight advantage, but this is a sport where the difference between success and failure is measured by tenths of a second. So even a little advantage can be a very big deal.
Here are my Fantasy NASCAR picks for the week:
Last call …
Everyone not named Jimmie Johnson