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Maybe NASCAR should change the name of this thing to The Jimmie Johnson Stock Car Tour

 Bristol: Not a sellout, but a huge crowd nevertheless....and one of the best action races here since the repave (Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR) 

   By Mike Mulhern

   BRISTOL, Tenn.
   Sunday was yet another day of frustration for Jimmie Johnson's rivals, but for him and crew chief Chad Knaus their victory at Bristol Motor Speedway was a first – a first here, at this concrete monster.
    Johnson says he understood early in his career the Bristol mystique:  "If you want to watch an action-packed race, you would watch the Bristol race, the night race especially.
    "When I was running the Nationwide series, I was at Randy LaJoie's house, he would have a big party...and every time there was a caution, a big bucket of Jello-shooters... everybody would have a big-time.
    "It's been a really downer for me to walk through the gates and look around and say to myself 'Man, I'm going to suck today, wreck in lap five.'
   "I really had that mindset coming here.
    "Last year we got onto the right path; I started building my confidence."
   And now he's got that and momentum, and a goodly shot of luck to work with too.
   Plus 50 tour victories.
   So why doesn't Johnson get his due as a very good driver? Why are there so many groans when he and Knaus win again?
   Car owner Rick Hendrick: "If you look at the stats, and you look at the talent, and you look at the dedication -- just look at his record. I don't understand why it's not written now he's one of the best that's ever done this.
    "You look at Jeff (Gordon)....and I've been around for a long time, watched a lot of guys from Richard Petty on up....
    "When you look at the level of competition in the sport, with what he's done, what he's accomplished, I mean I don't know what he's got to do...."

    Knaus called Sunday's win "pretty incredible."
    In part because Knaus was tired of hearing all those Bristol questions: "'Man, you don't run well at Bristol.'
    "That's kind of that stigma -- Everybody says, as we roll in here, 'You have never won here. What is it going to take to win?'"
    And in part because Knaus says that 'stigma' was unjustified: "We've run exceptionally well the last four races here. Jimmie has come into his own.
   "We left Atlanta two weeks ago bummed out...and for the first time in my career I said 'I can't wait to get to Bristol.'"
   Indeed only one man had a better car, Kurt Busch. And it was 'the luck of the draw' for that final restart, Johnson getting the preferred outside lane (ironically because Busch's crew beat Johnson's crew on pit road), that wound up making the difference.
   With 14 laps to go, the yellow was out and drivers were pitting. Two tires, for track position, or four tires, for better grip? Four men – Greg Biffle, Matt Kenseth, Carl Edwards and Tony Stewart – opted for two.
    Knaus gave Johnson four: "That was a pretty easy decision for us. We were second coming onto pit road, right behind Kurt.
    "We felt pretty confident a lot of guys were going to take two. But I felt if we had a really good pit stop, we'd roll out probably fourth....and if we had a bad pit stop, maybe eighth.
    "We had a good pit stop, and were sixth.
    "We felt very confident we'd be able to get back up to the front and get a solid top-five. That's what our goal was for the day, to come out of here with a top-10 finish, a strong run, and build on for what we needed in the fall (the August 500 here)."
    And at the final green Knaus figured Busch had them beat. Johnson's car "was very good on the short run....but it would fall off later in the run.  They did have us beat.
     "Honestly, if they'd have been ahead of us, we wouldn't have passed them."

    The next step for Johnson, Knaus and the rest of the tour is Tuesday's big test at Charlotte Motor Speedway.   
    Will the new rear spoiler make much of a difference? Will it be a stumbling block for Johnson and Knaus? Or, with Rick Hendrick's vast resources will the change solidify Johnson's hold on things?
    "It's going to be interesting," Knaus says. "We've played around a little bit....done a lot of aerodynamic research and simulation....
     "It's a significant change to the race cars -- more from just an appearance standpoint.
      "It's a big, big change to the race car.
        "I'm looking forward to it. When there are situations like that -- a major rule change -- with the strength we have we typically adapt quicker than most people."

   And then on to Martinsville....where Johnson's three-for-five start could easily become four-for-six. "We're one of the probably three or four you have to put as a favorite," Johnson says. But he points to Denny Hamlin, Jeff Gordon, Juan Pablo Montoya and Mark Martin as men to watch.
    "We're off to a great start...but we've all seen enough teams rise and fall," Johnson frets. "You never just hand it to anybody."

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  Car owner Rick Hendrick (C) with Chad Knaus and Jimmie Johnson: maybe it's time to step up to Formula 1. Can anybody stop these guys? (Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR)

I'm sorry I just cant stomach

I'm sorry I just cant stomach this sport anymore, Jimmie, Jimmie, Jimmie, on the plus side more leg room in the grandstands and short lines at the restrooms!

I don't have a problem with

I don't have a problem with JJ winning. Congrats JJ! BUT!!!! That last caution. Was that REALLY necessary? CAUTION FOR A RUBBER BRAKE DUCT HOSE?!?! Unless that thang is make of steel and can cut a tire, what was the point? What's NASCAR'S excuse? "Well, uhhh, we couldna tell what that thang wuz?" "That's why we thru it out...The caution I mean" All them damn TV cameras and binoculars and they couldn't "justify" a race to the flag without a caution? Hell, there was enough rubber on the track to build a tire, let alone a rubber brake duct hose. That piece had no significance, no safety "issue" other than NASCAR wanted a reason to throw out a late race caution, jumble up the field and a wreckers-or-checkers finish.

We might as well fast fwd to Texas...JJ got M'ville and Phx in the bag.

What's the big deal? I like

What's the big deal? I like to see racing and really don't give a rat's arse who wins as long as the racing is good. JJ just wins every 6 times out.
Would it be better if the guy with the cosmetic surgery to his ears had won? Don't think so. How bout the 88? The 5? The 90? There was awful racing and good racing when the original 43 stunk up the show but I still watched. Hell, I watched the modifieds run and didn't know one driver but it was good racing. Went to Road Atlanta and drank gallons of beer watching Dr.s and Lawyers run in SCCA but there was some good racing.

If you guys have a man crush on a second rate driver, keep it to your self, I'm watching the damn race and could care less if your guy or mine wins. In the immortal words of Chance the Gardner in the movie Being There, "I like to watch." Get over it and pass the beer and chicken wings.....

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