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Woody: Jimmie Stinking Up The Show

Larry Woody | Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Thursday, March 4 2010
Jimmie Johnson takes a lot of checkered flags. Does he take too many? (Photo by Todd Warshaw/Getty Images)

Jimmie Johnson takes a lot of checkered flags. Does he take too many? (Photo by Todd Warshaw/Getty Images)

By Larry Woody | Senior Writer
RacinToday.com

Back in the late 1960’s a brash, talent-oozing young leadfoot from Ownesboro, Ky., swaggered into Nashville and proceeded to turn Nashville Speedway’s Victory Circle into his own private parking space.

His name was Darrell Waltrip and he drove as fast as he talked. He was darn near unbeatable.

Darrell wasn’t just winning most of the races, he was turning them into boring blowouts.

Finally crusty old Speedway promoter Bill Donoho called DW in for a sit-down.

“Son,” growled Donoho, “you’re stinking up my show!”

Darrell just shrugged a so-what shrug and kept on scooting.

Today NASCAR faces a similar problem. Jimmie Johnson is stinking up the show. He is racking up win after win – two in three races already this season – and making it look easy.

Donoho’s problem of TMD (Too Much Darrell) was finally solved when Waltrip graduated up to NASCAR’s Grand National big leagues. NASCAR’s Jimmie problem can’t be solved so easily – Johnson’s not going anywhere anytime soon. Heck, at 35 he’s just getting started.

Johnson has four consecutive Sprint Cup championships and is on track for five. The record seven-total titles notched by Richard Petty and Dale Earnhardt – once considered untouchable – is suddenly well within Johnson’s reach.

After starting the season in a hole with a 35th-place finish at Daytona, Johnson reeled off wins at California and Las Vegas. Going into Atlanta this weekend he is up to 5th in the standings – a 30-spot jump in two races.

If he gets a big lead we can put out the campfire and call in the hounds. This hunt will be over early. By July we pundits will be analyzing the battle for second. And once the Chase for the Championship starts don’t bet against Johnson and his bullet-proof team; NASCAR might as well go ahead and engrave the trophy.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: This is not a criticism of Johnson. He’s just doing his job, blowing the doors off the competition week after week.

It’s not his fault that nobody can keep up with him. But that doesn’t change the fact that he – like Waltrip four decades ago – is stinking up the show.

NASCAR knows this is a critical season in terms of reviving sagging TV ratings and attendance. It needs some excitement, some drama, some old-fashioned driver duels. It needs a shakeup and a wakeup.

It needs some new faces out front, some fresh personalities in Victory Circle. More (yawn) wins by Johnson, more virtually uncontested marches to more championships, won’t cure what ails NASCAR.

For the sake of the sport it’s too bad that Jimmie’s so good. He and his team are so dominant its scary – giving NASCAR good reason to be nervous.

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

Larry Woody | Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Thursday, March 4 2010
9 Comments

9 Comments »

  • Steve says:

    The Chase. Wouldn’t it be funny if Johnson smoked the field up until the Chase and then started to have problems during the Chase and not win it. Talk about carma!! Let’s not get ahead of ourselves and annoint him the championship yet. He is off to a good start but still a long way to go.

    • susan says:

      What will be funnier is when he smokes the field all year long and makes it 5 in a row.. I bet if it were your driver you wouldnt have a problem…He is here to stay, so haters need to deal with it..just like we did when Sr. ruled and Gordon did.Someone will come along and take his place and Im sure if he isnt the driver of your choice you will feel the same way about him..Enjoy the sport and stop complaining all the time people..

      • Pat says:

        Actually, no. I won’t just “deal with it” and “enjoy the sport”. The 48 car obviously has an unfair advantage, week in and week out, that NASCAR is either not catching, or doesn’t want to catch. So instead, I’m LEAVING the sport. It’s all yours, Susan. Enjoy watching your boy cruise to any easy number 5. I’ll be elsewhere, watching a more legitimate sport – like professional wrestling.

  • susan says:

    I think its all the writers that are making the problem.. Jimmie Johnson is NOT stinking up the show.. He is doing what he is suppose to do and he gets blamed because 42 other drivers arent doing their job… People are only upset because their favorite driver isnt winning, I would be to, but I happen to be a Johnson fan and Im sick of hearing the negative about him.. Jealousy is and ugly thing for all those haters and shame on them for it.. Im sure If Chad were to go with their driver they would love every minute of it, and they probably wouldnt get the same results Chad gets with Jimmie… So hate all you want, whine all you want, but he’s kicking everyone else’s butts and dont watch if you cant take it. The show is just fine if your a true Nascar fan. Anything else is just sour grapes..

  • Graceann says:

    It sure is funny watching JJ actually “STINK” when driving the Nationwide Cars or the Trucks, but then again Chad is not there is he? Thinks that make you go Hmmm…. You would think a 4 time champ could excel at every level & with any crew chief, the other champs with numerous titles had no problem.

  • j says:

    Hendrick should put his money where his mouth is – put Knaus on the 88 with JR.

  • MsLaramie says:

    I call it the Jimmy Johnson show. Your article emplys that its all Jimmy, take another look, with out Chad Jimmy is just another driver, edwards Kenseth, Harvick, etc. There are a lot of drivers out ther with talent, they just do not have a chad setting the car up and making unbelievable calls when needed.

    Hendrick can say the teams share, maybe in the shop, but you can bank that Chad has secrets in his head on this and that , that he will not share.

    If Nascar wants to do something about the show, offer Chad Darveys job, that would end the duo, like when Gordon lost Ray.

  • john brooks says:

    Great observation, I personally thought it was going to be the end of me and sunday afternoon tv, but then jamie mac won the datona race and the emotions of winning a race of such magnitued. I was back on the band wagon again looking forward to the california race and maybe a win for say robbie gordon, but not to be another win for jimmie and the expected look of yea i won another race in the winners circle.

  • al says:

    stinking it up enough that i woent watch anymore,atlanta this weekend not even going to turn on the race ,chad will get caught sooner or later,an the 88 team is just an R/D team when is jr going to figure that out,to think that rick said there making progress,an there share all information,when chad fines something you really think his going to share it ,doent think so ,the 4th team at hendrick motorsports never ever did great just a middle of the pack R/D race team,jr made a big mistake there hope he soon figures that one out too,jr nation will not wait all year to see the 88 repeat like last year.an it will happen,mr.h is just laughing all the way to the bank,