Wednesday, February 24, 2010

The "Luck" of Jimmie Johnson - A Response to Kevin Harvick and a "Horseshoe" in the posterior

Good gracious ... Kevin Harvick is the classic "happy" self he has always been. If he can't find something good about which to complain, he can't say anything good at all. Harvick, seriously, get over yourself when it comes to your "relationship" to Jimmie Johnson. Face facts - he's better than you are. You got lucky back in 2001, lest you forget, in winning in someone else's car (um, who could that be?!?) ... beating somebody in Atlanta named Jeff Gordon using a white 29 car ... but we fail to remember only 9 short years later that car belonged to Richard Childress and "the man" himself would have been driving it if you didn't get to take his place. Knock it off with the crap about being lucky ... you don't even know how lucky you were in 2001 to be the beneficiary of Dale Earnhardt's misfortune.

Nobody in NASCAR gets the chance to rest on their laurels forever, and nobody can be lucky for seven years in a row! Geesh, I am a Tony Stewart fan, I've been a NASCAR fan for the past two decades, I grew up loving Dale Earnhardt, and I love the racing I have seen so far in 2010. My god, 2009 was a snoozefest ... and, yes, seeing Jimmie Johnson win ad nauseum doesn't help. Do I begrudge his success? Are you crazy? Hendrick Motorsports is the product of team chemistry and exchange of ideas. Rick Hendrick himself saved the JJ-Chad Knaus dynasty only a few short years ago when it looked like it was going to fall apart.

The reality is this: luck is the result of good preparation. Chad Knaus is the best crew chief in NASCAR, period. Anybody who thinks otherwise is fooling themselves. The uncanny resemblance of Johnson-Knaus to Gordon-Evernham is just as obvious to me now as it was in 2002. Johnson was given - yes, given - Jeff Gordon's equipment heading into the 2002 season the YEAR AFTER Gordon himself won his last championship. Why? Hendrick and Gordon wanted Johnson to have every chance to succeed for sponsor Lowe's ... and, guess what, he has more than exceeded anybody's expectations. The last non-Johnson championship, if any fan still remembers back that far, was Tony Stewart in 2005. Oh, by the way, the *least* legitimate champion of the Chase era is still the first one - Kurt Busch, 2004. Johnson could have won that year (if not his teammate Gordon, who perpetually is stuck on his now very unlucky four titles).

JJ has four titles, three to me for this man are undisputably his. Don't play the revisionist history game of "well, [fill-in-the-blank] should have won in [this year] if not for the [expletive] Chase" ... JJ earned what he did playing by the rules he was given. As they like to say ... Don't hate the driver, hate the game. Gag all over Brian France if you like, but the only two guys other than Johnson in the past few seasons who had any legitimate shot to win an outright title if not for the Chase were Jeff Gordon (who easily would have six or seven titles by now ... um, who got "hosed" by the Chase changes again?) and, possibly, Carl Edwards (which, in hindsight, seems debatable from two seasons ago). Even Tony's "regular season" win last year (2009) wasn't necessarily a given into the post-season final ten. JJ outraced him and won more times.

Who deserves last year's title - the guy with more wins or the guy who was better over the whole year (which was mathematically Johnson TOO)? We wouldn't have a Chase if Matt Kenseth hadn't cruised to the 2003 title on the merits of one lone win. Anybody remember far enough back to hearken a guy named Benny Parsons who did the same thing three decades earlier?

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