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If Johnson keeps winning, will you stop watching? -The results

By admin | March 17, 2010

By Richard Allen

After Jimmie Johnson started the season by winning two of the first three events I wrote a piece which asked fans if they would stop watching NASCAR if this driver’s dominance continued. The responses by reader comment, e-mail, twitter and Facebook were somewhat overwhelming. With this break we have in the schedule leading up to the Bristol weekend, I thought it would be a good time to examine those results.

Anytime a driver has been able to win races and championships like Johnson has, there will be those who like and dislike that individual. His example provides a somewhat unusual look into fandom. While he and crew chief Chad Knaus are not necessarily disliked, at least on a personal level, this team does not seem to inspire hardcore, Tiger Woods or New York Yankees type emotion in people.

Here is what your responses suggested to me:

1. NASCAR had better be thankful for the DVR. Several folks wrote to say they only watch recorded races after the events have been completed. Some of the reasons enumerated for this practice included the ability to skip commercials, to watch on the person’s own time schedule, to avoid boring segments of a race and to avoid pre-race shows. However, Johnson’s dominance also entered into this equation.

Here is one of those responses:

“All I can say is DVR, I will tape the races (except restricter plate races) and if Johnson wins I wont even watch, to all Jimmie fans good for you but its not good for nascar when people say why watch it I already know who will win! Dont believe me then go to tuesday morning’s and look at the ratings, no recession on tv you can watch anything you want and obviously people are sick of Jimmie Johnson and boring races, wish things would change this use to be my favorite sport!”

Here is a similar response:

“I DVR the races and then ask my wife to look up who won. If it is JJ she tells me and the race gets deleted. If it is not JJ I watch while being able to fast forward pre-race, commercials and post-race (unless my guy wins). Who has four hours to lose on the JJ show each week?”

2. With the above being said, let it be noted that there were responses which stated differing views from those I chose to show.

Here is one comment that did not share the opinion of those above:

“Over the years there have been a number of great drivers who have at times dominated racing. That’s the way it is and Jimmie deserves what he has earned. It is the drivers who make Nascar great, not people like Brian France.”

3. Another thing I noticed is that there are many who are quite resentful of the success currently being enjoyed by Johnson and Knaus. As I said above, this resentment may not necessarily equate to a personal dislike of the seemingly vanilla driver but it is there nonetheless.

Many go so far as to claim Johnson would not have the success he is having without his crew chief. Even some fans of the other Hendrick Motorsports drivers appear to share this view.

Here is a thought from a reader on the Johnson/Knaus tandem:

“Been a NASCAR fan since the 1960s. Tells you how old I am.
I’m pretty much done watching. Will DVR and maybe watch later if it’s worthwhile. This Johnson/Knaus thing is getting pretty old. Some one needs to put the bumper to them now and then. It’s the only thing that’s going to slow them down. But thinking about Texas last year and that didn’t even stop them. Tuned in on Sunday early on to see Gordon with the dominate car but noticed Johnson in the top five. Watched a few minutes. Figured the race was Johnson’s so turned it off and didn’t watch anymore. It’s so predictable, except on the short tracks and Daytona and Talladega.”

4. Based on the comments received from this and other columns I’ve written, there are a good number of people who believe that Johnson is succeeding due to luck or even NASCAR favoritism.

This reader says as much:

“I have no problem with Jimmy Johnson wining races and titles!
My problem is Nascars favortism with Chevy that makes its easier for a gifted driver such as Johnson win!

When you look at the big picture Johnson is beating other Chevy teams, or teammates who are really his only big competition! Ever notice how many consistent point title winners driving other brands dominate, lead laps, win point titles other than Chevy the last decade, and decade that had more brands with the return of Dodge and Toyota coming in the sport, still the same results!

The Chevy Globetrotter versus Dodge, Toyota, Ford, Washington General format is slowly cause apathy among Car Fans

I would love to see Johnson and Chad go to another brand of car and see how great they are!!!!!!”

All in all, perhaps this reader summed the whole situation up for many who are not so taken with Johnson’s success:

“The Chase and the 1.5 mile tracks plays directly into the 48’s hand. The stupid rules, like the pit stop rule that helped the 48 team win in Fontana and the phantom yellows always seem to help JJ. I used to go to at least 4 races a year, and watched every single race. Will not attend any races and I dvr it only, and if I hear that JJ wins, I just delete the program.

Oh, and my non attendance isn’t because of the economy—I’m using the money to buy season tickets for other sports.

Nascar needs to wake up and realize something is wrong. No one team is that perfect or great. Something is up with that team that no one can figure out, but something is stinking up the place. I mean, hasn’t Chad the Great been caught cheating a few times? Nascar cannot be thrilled with what’s going on and the falling ratings and attendance. It’s pretty sad when they cover up empty stands with advertising and Phoenix makes the seats bigger, reducing the number of seats available.”

But on the other hand, for those who are fans of Jimmie Johnson this person may best sum up what they would like to tell those who are complaining about the winning ways of their favorite driver:

“Waaaaaaaahhhhhh! My driver can’t win. Jimmie drives too fast. I don’t like Hendrick. Sniff, sniff.

Romper Room is in session folks.”

Interesting comments everyone. Thanks for your input.

Follow @RacingWithRich on twitter.

Richard Allen is a member of the National Motorsports Press Association. His weekly columns appear in The Mountain Press and The Knoxville Journal.

Topics: Articles |

5 Responses to “If Johnson keeps winning, will you stop watching? -The results”

  1. Patsi Says:
    March 18th, 2010 at 10:59 am

    I do not watch the race if JJ is leading and there is no chance of anyone beating him. I leave the room or turn the TV off. JJ couldn’t win without Chad.

  2. Justin Says:
    March 18th, 2010 at 12:20 pm

    How quickly people forget that there is peaks and valleys for dominance. Remember the 90’s, when no one could beat Evernham/Gordon??? That was even more of a beating, Gordon got to 50 wins, something crazy like 45 less races than JJ…..

    I am curious what will happen when Knaus moves on, in a similar fashion to Ray Evernham, will Johnson fall from Superman status, to elite status like Gordon….????

    I also have to laugh when someone says that NASCAR throws phantom cautions to help JJ, I thought they only did that for Dale Jr, LMFAO, isnt that right Kyle Busch fans?

  3. midasmicah Says:
    March 18th, 2010 at 3:02 pm

    First, I’ll qualify this by stating that I’ve been watching nas$car for 30+ years. Throughout nas$car’s history there have been drivers that have dominated, but there has always been heated rivalries along the way. It’s not just that Johnson is winning. He’s a great driver. The problem is that nas$car has taken away one thing that it used to thrive on. Clashing personalities. The vanilla personalities are present because nas$car has forced them into that box over the last 10 years or so. With all the old time fans turning away, nas$car is starting to finally listen. Letting boys be boys will realy open things up again, but it will take time to win everybody back. In answering the question it’s not that I don’t watch nas$car anymore. I try, but when the races turn into follow the leader parades I change the channel. And believe me there’s plenty else to watch on tv in today’s market. Thanks for listening.

  4. Joe from Pittsburgh Says:
    March 18th, 2010 at 6:22 pm

    What Midasmicah says.

  5. Marcus Says:
    March 18th, 2010 at 8:01 pm

    Been a fan since the mid 90’s when I was 10 and truly old enough to understand watching sports. I believe that Johnson could win with another crew chief, just not NEARLY as much. The scary part is that, yes, Gordon got to 50 wins much faster than JJ will, but when Evernham left, so did the dominance. There is no indication that Chad is ready to move on. Chad and Jimmie could stay together and do this for another 5 years!! I used to let these races stress me out so much that it definately not good for my health. The biggest things that effected my nerves the past 5 years, is the repeat of events. Something happens to Jr/He fades late, Johnson either dominates and wins, or he comes out of nowhere to win in last 50-100 laps.
    I will still watch the sport, because anything can happen in any given race. Something needs to change for NASCAR’s sake though.