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Woody: That’s All Folks

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Monday, November 16 2009
Jimmie Johnson has shut down the show. (Photo by Jason Smith/Getty Images for NASCAR)

Jimmie Johnson has shut down the show. (Photo by Jason Smith/Getty Images for NASCAR)

They can take down the tents, load the elephants and wipe the grease paint off the clowns’ faces so they can return to their regular jobs as Washington politicians.

This circus is over.

As if there was really ever any doubt.

Anyone who wondered how Jimmie Johnson could win a NASCAR-record fourth Cup championship should wonder no more. Not after Tornado Jimmie touched down in Phoenix last Sunday.

Johnson bounced back from his previous week’s wipeout at Texas by not just winning, but winning with total dominance. I believe it’s called Making a Statement.

Suddenly all of that excited post-Texas twittering about “a whole new Chase” is silent again. You can hear the crickets (Jiminy Crickets?) chirping. It’s over.

When Johnson fires up his Chevy Sunday at  Homestead-Miami, third-place Jeff Gordon will be officially eliminated. That will leave second-place Mark Martin as Johnson’s lone challenger, and Martin is buried 108 points back.

What we’ve witnessed during the past nine weeks of Chase-racing has been truly amazing, and I’m not talking about Jimmie’s impressive sprint.

I’m talking about the disappearing act pulled by almost all of the other Chase racers.

Ten weeks ago we were told that the 12 drivers who made the Chase were the cream of NASCAR, the best of the best, the dozen greatest stock car drivers the sport had to offer.

If that’s true – and it probably is, with a couple of exceptions – the sport’s in trouble.

The Dandy Dozen faded faster than cheap blue jeans. Half the field apparently didn’t get the word that the Chase has started. And of the remaining half nobody except Martin and Gordon seemed to really get in the game.

So now we’re off to Homestead with one – count ‘em, ONE – challenger.

So much for parity. Parity drives No. 48.

NASCAR has become HENDRICK-CAR. Hendrick Motorsports is headed for a 1-2-3 finish in the final standings with Johnson, Martin and Gordon. If Dale Earnhardt Jr. ever gets it in gear we may see 1-2-3-4 finish next year.

Wonder how much longer fans will come out to watch Hendrick intramural racing?

Again, that’s not Johnson’s fault. He can’t pull over to the curb and wait for everybody else to catch up. (On second thought, he did that at Texas, and they STILL couldn’t catch up.)

And now he’s poised to make history.

Yes I realize, as the Boys in the Booth keep reminding us, that it’s not over. I suppose they’re technically correct. Jimmie has to find his way to Homestead this weekend, get his car started and dodge meteorites falling from space.

Can he do it? Ah, the drama.

– Larry Woody can be reached at lwoody@racintoday.com

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Monday, November 16 2009
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