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Memo: It’s Just Plain Jimmie

Jim Pedley | Managing Editor, RacinToday.com Wednesday, November 25 2009
Jimmie gets his picture taken on Empire State Building by two-name athlete Johnny Damon of the Yankees. (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images for NASCAR)

Jimmie gets his picture taken on Empire State Building by two-name athlete Johnny Damon of the Yankees. (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images for NASCAR)

Let’s see what’s in today’s Morning Memo:

He has now earned the highest of all honors that can be bestowed upon those who spend their lives in the public eye.

More-so than a private jet or his photo on the cover “People Magazine” or his police mugshot on the internet, this honor is a symbol of heaven-high status for him in the world of the adored.

From last Sunday forward, he is now known simply as “Jimmie”.

Yes, Jimmie Johnson has entered the world of the one-name celebrities. Henceforth, in headlines and in casual conversation and as he strides onto the set of Oprah, his last name can be dropped as being superfluous. The world now knows Jimmie Johnson that well.

The four straight Sprint Cup championships and the trophies which went with them were his means to the ultimate end.

Those things, the laps led, the zen-like focus, the non-stop physical training whisked him away this week to literally lofty places like the Empire State Building in New York City, to the figuratively high place of the ESPN campus in Connecticut. (Been to both and the latter was more fun).

Wedged around that were appearances on “Today”, “Tonight”, “Yesterday”, “A Week From Last Wednesday”.

Presumably there will be guest shots on “ET” (where they will want to ask him about Angelina and Brad), “PTI” (where they will want to ask him about LeBron) and that new show “DOA” (where they will want to talk to him about dignity in the world of television).

It all leads up to the awards banquet in Las Vegas next weekend and it all shows he is worthy of one-name status.

In that, Johnson, er, Jimmie, joins Cher, Madonna, Jen, The Donald (is that one name, or two names, or a name and a title?), Larry, Moe, Curly and Charo.

Congratuations, Jimmie. Smell the roses.

Memo to self: Another championship next year and Jimmie will be entitled to begin referring to himself in the third person; that’s what Pedley thinks, anyway.

Two styles of dealing with racing adversity went on display over the last couple of weeks. The two styles were exhibited by the top two teams in NASCAR.

Over at Roush Fenway Racing, the disappointing seasons of some its drivers were dealt with by making crew chief changes. That has been an often-used tactic by Jack Roush over the years. Not sure if I can count the number of times Jimmy Fennig has been shifted.

Over at Hendrick, things remain pretty much as is. Yes, there was the moving out of Tony Eury Jr. as crew chief for Dale Earnhardt Jr., and the insertion of Lance McGrew a couple months ago. But even though Earnhardt’s performance has been improved-but-iffy since, McGrew will remain in place.

And then there is the No. 24 team’s situation. Steve Letarte not only remains on the job after two seasons which have produced just one victory, he retrains the confidence of his driver and boss.

Judgement withheld on all of this. We shall see which is the better strategy in coming months and years.

Note to self: Sure hope the wife and dog are Hendrick-system adherents.

Fresh off another three-hour Monday night beat-down by Ron Jaworski, I feel it is appropriate to once again state the fact that the NFL is not rocket science. Nor is baseball (I’m looking at you Tim McCarver), nor is basketball (Billy Packer, I see you).

Evidence? Take a look at some of the geniuses who are excelling in those sports these days.

Racing? Well, it very much is rocket science. It is physics and flow dynamics and the laws of thermodynamics and motion. The more you understand those things, the more you understand what is taking place on the tracks on Sundays and in the shops during the week.

Racing at its purist, is a thinking person’s sport.

And say what you want about the people who do television analysis of NASCAR, for the most part (sorry, Jack Arute) they choose to explain the sport to viewers rather than belittle them with condescension (thanks Brewer, Waltrips, Petree, et al).

Note to self: Call the university in town here and see if we can get some help on the dang nickel defense thing they keep talking about.

– Jim Pedley can be reached at jpedley@racintoday.com

Jim Pedley | Managing Editor, RacinToday.com Wednesday, November 25 2009
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