Follow me on

Twitter Feed Facebook Feed RSS Feed Linked In Youtube

Jimmie Johnson: "One of the greatest drivers ever in this series," says car owner Rick Hendrick

  Jeff Gordon (L) congratulates Jimmie Johnson on Saturday's win in the Charlotte 500 (Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR)

   By Mike Mulhern

   Jimmie Johnson and Chad Knaus are now setting the agenda in this year's NASCAR championship chase. Or with what remains of the championship chase, after their third victory in the first five playoff races, in Saturday night's Charlotte Banking 500.
   Once again Johnson whipped teammate Jeff Gordon in the final miles, for the second straight week, for the win.
   And once again Johnson is 'stinking up the show.'
   "I'm just doing my thing," Johnson said, a little frustrated at questions about his being just too good at all this.
   And Johnson, Knaus and car owner Rick Hendrick all insisted it's still too early to be getting comfortable and confident in their bid for an unprecedented fourth straight NASCAR title.
   But this title looks all but inevitable. In fact, it's looked that way since Johnson won at Dover three weeks, and then at California last week.
   Consider those few remaining title rivals not just depressed and reeling but also demoralized. And that was going into Saturday night's race. Coming out of it, well, barring a comet hitting the Hendrick Motorsports compound it seems quite unlikely that Johnson and Knaus can be derailed.
   They gained more ground on everyone in the chase.
   Juan Pablo Montoya was the night's big loser, getting jammed up between Clint Bowyer and Mark Martin on a mid-race restart and getting his rear bumper punched into his rear tire. Montoya hung out on the track, awaiting a caution for repairs, but that caution never came. Where NASCAR was criticized last weekend for perhaps being too free with the yellow, this time – in this instance at least – NASCAR earned some criticism for not throwing a yellow.
    Montoya's tire finally blew, he spun, and avoided seriously damage. But he wound up four laps down, and he finished a very disappointing 35th. That leaves Montoya 195 points down and essentially now out of the title race: "Oh, it's okay. It's racing. If you're expecting to have ten clean races, then you're dreaming. We knew it could happen. And here always the restarts are an issue. I managed to slow down (when Bowyer had a slow start), and I just got hit from behind. It happens.
    "We made the chase, and up until today we had four top five's in a row. We were actually surprised -- everybody on the team is doing such a good job that even today we had a faster car than Jimmie. So it just happens. It's one of those racing things that will happen, and we've just got to move on."
   And Martin, who came into the night just 12 points behind teammate Johnson, left for home 90 points behind. Not insurmountable by any means, but clearly Martin was deflated.
   And probably Gordon too – he ran a heck of a race, nearly pulled off the win, but lost more points to Johnson, and he's now 135 points behind.
   If Johnson keeps this pace and wins his fourth title, that will be Hendrick's ninth NASCAR championship since his first in 1995.
   However Hendrick tried to look cautiously at the situation over these coming five weeks: "The Richard Childress cars are coming on, Denny Hamlin could have won two races in a row, and the Jack Roush cars are coming on."
   Martin's title hopes were seriously dented in that restart incident with Bowyer and Montoya: "The damage that Mark got on that restart – we had a hole in the front of the car we had to fix," Hendrick said. "And then the car was stuck back in the pack, and wounded. He had a top-five car I'm sure."
   A major headache for Hendrick of course is Dale Earnhardt Jr. having another bad night.
   "Dale Jr. – I'm as frustrated as those guys are," Hendrick said. "I thought we had turned the corner at Loudon; they had one of our better cars. And good cars at Kansas and California. But now transmission trouble.
   When you're snake-bit, it's hard to show up and be all that confident. But I talked with those guys this afternoon and told them 'This is not going to last. It's going to change.'
   "We don't hide from it. We just know we've got to work harder.
    "We're going to get it. I just hope it's soon."
   And Jeff Gordon? He has been driving his heart out this fall, but still losing ground. Down the stretch Gordon was ruthless: "We were fighting like we were the bad guy, that's for sure. We put two tires on (the last pit stop, a gamble to get better track position), and that was a great call by (crew chief) Steve Letarte. Steve called this race perfectly, and we gave it a shot. I couldn't even believe I got the lead on the restart and was able to get by Jimmie when he got loose. And we were racing really hard. But I knew it was just a matter of time before my two tires would give up and it did.
  "All we can do is keep fighting and do the best that we can. Keep ourselves in it. Those guys are awfully tough...and you give them momentum like this, they are only going to get stronger. Hopefully we can go to Martinsville and maybe change some things around there, more than what we have been experiencing the last couple of times. It is a great track for us. All we can do is keep putting up this fight and see what happens to those guys."


  Crew chief Chad Knaus gets congrats from car owner Rick Hendrick (Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR)

Why is Juniors car always the

Why is Juniors car always the one with breaking parts? It has been oops no brakes, Oil belt fell off, car just quitting, bad motor and now the transmission wouldn't stay in fourth gear. That doesn't even count for being taken out of about 5 races by being hit by another driver. Even Jeff Gordon in the last 2 years been that great with only 1 win in that time. Makes your wonder.

Are you suggesting Hendrick

Are you suggesting Hendrick siphons off good parts from his other cars to strengthen his favored car?

It's been that way since the days when Geoff Bodine's #5 was getting parts taken away for Tim Richmond's #25.

Yeah I noticed that too about

Yeah I noticed that too about Gordon. He only has one win in the last 2 years. Gordon used to get atleast 3 wins every year. And yeah, he has been close a lot, but he usually doesn't contend for it.

Greatest driver, i don't

Greatest driver, i don't think so. Best crew chief ever, yes. They may be a team that supposedly shares information, but i don't think they share whats in chad knaus's head. jimmy wasn't that great in the lower series, it was only when he teamed up with knaus that he became a champion.

from classicnascar (via

from classicnascar (via youtube comments):

i tried to reply on your video but it was too long. sorry for the length.

i absolutely despise the chase and the direction that brian france is taking the sport.

i say drop the chase and bring the real points system back, i know it wont happen but this is a joke. the first 26 races are worthless, nobody's ever gonna win enough races to gain a real advantage in the chase. they should atleast let the regular season champion keep 1/2 his lead going into the chase, atleast then it would make it a LITTLE more fair.

2008: KB- 8 wins in 22 races, out after first 2 chase races. carl/kyle had 370 points on Jimmie after richmond.

2007: Jeff Gordon - 30 top 10's, 430 points on Jimmie after richmond.

2006: the only one he really deserved although i seem to remember hearing that stewart would have won under the old format.

auto racing isn't supposed to have a playoff system. everybody races every other driver every week unlike other sports with playoff systems. imo the chase has ruined nascar, anybody can pop up and win the title which isn't fair to guys who had an incredible season up until that point.




Post new comment

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Allowed HTML tags: <a> <em> <strong> <cite> <code> <ul> <ol> <li> <dl> <dt> <dd>
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
This question is for testing whether you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.
Enter the characters shown in the image.

© 2010-2011 www.mikemulhern.net All rights reserved.
Web site by www.webdesigncarolinas.com