COMMENTARY | If I were Kasey Kahne, I'd be very mad right now.
Saturday's Daytona race was going well for Kasey, as he was running behind his Hendrick teammate Jimmie Johnson up front late in the race and had a shot to try to win it all.
Suddenly, Johnson ditches Kahne and moves up track to get a push from Ford driver Marcos Ambrose. I know everything's up in the air at the end of plate races and plans go out the window, but that is still a seriously lame thing to do to your teammate, especially since Johnson had already been so dominant all race.
What happened next was worse: Johnson drove down into Ambrose, who was trying to make a move for the lead in the middle, knocking Ambrose hard into Kasey on the inside, leading to a wild ride that ended up head first into a wall.
Kasey didn't seem too upset when he talked about the wreck, but inside you know he's not happy with Jimmie. How could he be?
The two of them were supposed to stay stuck together until the end of the race. There was no reason for them not to do that, and if that had happened the duo probably would have finished 1-2.
But as usual, it comes down to a fact that some NASCAR fans aren't aware of: For Jimmie Johnson, it's all about Jimmie and that's all that matters.
Sure, he can wreck people to win, but if anyone even battles him on track, Jimmie complains that they are racing him too hard.
If a restart goes bad for Jimmie and he loses, it was obviously a rules violation by the other guy or some mistake by NASCAR. There's no way he could possibly have done anything wrong!
I get the feeling based on everything I have seen from Jimmie over the past few years that because he once won five straight titles, he assumes others will just let him go by.
This is why I long ago dubbed Jimmie as NASCAR's 'whiner in chief'.
Back at the Hendrick camp, they surely understand that what Jimmie did at Daytona was not right - both the ditching of his teammate and then the subsequent wreck that he caused.
But since he's "Five-time," he'll probably be treated with kid gloves and allowed to do as he pleases. That's usually how it works with people like Jimmie - they're surrounded by 'yes men'. If Rick Hendrick wants to do what's right, he'll tell Jimmie that his late-race actions weren't the right moves to make and hurt the team, but I wouldn't put money on that.
A guy like Jimmie just doesn't make mistakes, at least in his own mind, and that's something I find to be a rather annoying trait - both in NASCAR drivers and people in the real world.
Fans turned off
There is a reason so many NASCAR fans do not root for Jimmie Johnson: He comes off as a smug person who won't admit he made a mistake.
For the record, I recognize fully that this guy is without a doubt one of the best NASCAR drivers in the history of the sport. No one in their right mind would say otherwise, as his stats are mind-boggling and he's only been around for a little over a decade. Who knows what he can do in the future if he continues to run as hot as he has run in 2013 - he could own the entire NASCAR record book (outside of Petty's 200 wins).
But if he were a little more humble, a little less hypocritical, and a lot less whiny, he would have a lot more fans and people might be less annoyed when he pulls off these dominant performances like he had at Daytona.
But his sense of entitlement is so off-putting that you won't hear many fans cheering for him when he wins.
I am fully aware that Jimmie Johnson is a trillionaire who could care less what I, any other NASCAR writer, and most of the fans out there think about him and how he acts. But if you've been paying attention to Jimmie over the years, and witnessed his actions on track at Daytona on Saturday, chances are you've come to the same conclusion that I have: He follows a "do as I say, not as I do" rule when it comes to how he treats other drivers - even his teammates.
And that's not an attitude most fans want in a driver they're going to support.
Matt Myftiu lives in Michigan, has been a walking encyclopedia of NASCAR since immersing himself in the sport over 15 years ago, and has worked as a journalist for two decades. His blog on the sport, NASCAR: Beyond the Track, has been published by The Oakland Press for the past 5 years. Follow him on Twitter @MattMyftiu.
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- Jimmie Johnson
- Kasey Kahne