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Woody: Anybody But Jimmie Would Be Toast

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Monday, October 17 2011

Jimmie Johnson's car had to be towed back to the garages at Charlotte. Were his championship hopes also in tow? (RacinToday/HHP photo by Brian Lawdermilk)

By Larry Woody | Senior Writer

If Jimmie Johnson can escape this one, he should change his name to Jimmie Houdini.

Last Saturday night’s Charlotte wipeout dropped Johnson five spots in the standings and left him buried in eighthplace with just five races to go. And so we can say with absolute certainty that one of two things is going to happen in the next five weeks:

Either Jimmie’s amazing, record-busting streak of championships will end at six, or else we’re going to witness the biggest, most incredible comeback in NASCAR history.

Nobody has ever rallied from so far back in such a short span to win the title.

If it were any other driver I’d say it’s time to scratch Johnson’s name off the list of contenders, along with that of gassed Chasers Dale Earnhardt, Jr., Ryan Newman, Jeff Gordon and Denny Hamiln.

But of course Johnson is not just Any Other Driver.

For that reason – and that alone – there still might be a glimmer of hope, a miracle in the making.

If he should win it, I’m not sure what the headline should be the morning after the season

Jimmie Johnson took the checkered flag at Kansas and then a tow truck ride at Charlotte. (RacinToday/HHP photo by Harold Hinson)

finale at Homestead:

“Johnson Completes Records Comeback!” or “Rivals Blow Record Lead!”

Right now there are seven drivers who are in better position to win the title than Johnson, starting with points leader Carl Edwards.

Edwards clings to a tenuous 5-point lead over Kevin Harvick, with Matt Kenseth two points further back in third. The championship is theirs to lose.

Lurking in forth and praying for a flop by all three front-runners is Kyle Busch, followed by Tony Stewart, Brad Keselowski and Kurt Busch.

Anyone who’s not among the top five coming out of Talladega Sunday is toast. That includes Johnson, which means he’s going to have to make up some serious ground this weekend.

The pressure’s on Johnson and his one-bulletproof team to try to do the near-impossible. But accomplishing the impossible has become the trademark of Jimmie and his crew in recent years.

Who would have though they could win three consecutive championships and tie Cale Yarborough’s record? But they did.

Who would have thought they could win four in a row and break the record? But they did.

Who would have thought (really, com’on now) that they could possibly stretch the streak to five? But they did.

That’s why I’m hesitant to say they can’t do the impossible one more time and rally from 8th place to win a sixth title.

It’s a long shot, but I wouldn’t bet the farm against Jimmie just yet. I can’t; I lost the farm a long time betting against him.

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

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Monday, October 17 2011
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