By admin | March 1, 2010
By Richard Allen
Hard to believe as it may be, after more than four years of winning races and championships there are still some who claim Jimmie Johnson’s success is due to luck. Fuel was added to this fire after Johnson won the Auto Club 500 in California and driving competitor Kevin Harvick made reference to Johnson having a horseshoe up his…well, you know.
Sorry to those who hope that Johnson’s string of luck will end someday and he will look human like everyone else, but there is not nearly so much luck involved as there is skill.
Granted, there is a certain degree of luck, or circumstance if you prefer, involved in just about everything. But if you notice, those who most often get ‘lucky’ are those who have best prepared themselves to take advantage of whatever situation might arise. As the old saying goes, luck is the result of preparation meeting opportunity.
Last week in California, Johnson was a bit lucky to have just entered pit road as a late caution flag flew and then to get off of pit road in time to stay on the lead lap. That enabled him to move to the front of the field after the other teams pitted their cars under the yellow. The resulting track position then allowed him to pull away and win.
Had he and his crew not been prepared they would not have been able to take advantage of their opportunity. Had there been indecision as to whether they should go ahead with the stop or not they might have gotten lapped. Had the crew not executed a flawless pit stop they would have been lapped. There was luck involved but without the proper preparation it would have been bad luck rather than good.
This weekend’s race in Las Vegas again showed that the #48 Hendrick Motorsports crew knows how to finish the deal. On the last pit stop of the day crew chief Chad Knaus knew that four new tires would be needed if Johnson was to win the race. When Jeff Gordon’s team opted to only take two tires the stage was set for Johnson to win again. Preparation met opportunity and again the #48 team got ‘lucky’.
Many Johnson haters like to point out that he would not have won two of his four championships had the old system still been in place rather than the Chase for the
Championship. They might insist that he has been lucky to have had deficits erased by the playoff format. But that’s just it, the old system is not in place. Johnson and Knaus have adapted to the game better than everyone else. It’s not luck, it’s preparation.
To say that Jimmie Johnson and his team will just go on and on winning championships may or may not be a wise thing to do. However, trying to discount what they have already done by claiming they are simply lucky is ridiculous.
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Richard Allen is a member of the National Motorsports Press Association. His weekly columns appear in The Mountain Press and The Knoxville Journal.
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