By admin | September 11, 2011
By Richard Allen
I’m not exactly sure for how many years I have written a piece similar to this one but for the sake of giving it a name I will call it the third annual. The basic premise is obvious. With the field now set and the 2011 Chase of the Championship playoff about to begin, Jimmie Johnson is the safest and most obvious choice as a prediction to win the title.
Johnson has won five Sprint Cup championships in a row so it’s an incredible understatement to say that he and his team have figured this system out.
As would be very predictable, after having had so much success there are many out there who are hoping to see someone new claim the big trophy at season’s end. Johnson’s detractors have spent much of the year to date looking for reasons as to why we won’t be referring to ‘Ole Five Time’ as ‘Ole Six Time’ about ten weeks from now. Trouble is, there have been a number of reasons why he would not win over the past five campaigns and he has won anyway.
Some might argue that his pit crew is not up to par. The ‘over the wall gang’ for the #48 team has caused their driver to lose spots on pit road a number of times this season. Crew chief Chad Knaus has openly stated his own misgivings about his crew members and has found himself apologizing to the driver for poor stops on more than one occasion.
However, this Hendrick Motorsports crew was not the best on pit road last year either. The original crew was even sacked by Knaus late in the Chase in favor of Jeff Gordon’s usual team members. Yet, Johnson still went on to win the title in the end.
And more, while using this supposed poor crew, Johnson had managed to lead the standings going into this past weekend’s race in Richmond. If they are bad, they can’t be that bad.
Some of the Johnson skeptics might contend that this HMS team just isn’t as good as they have been in the past. They might reference differences in tires or aerodynamics that have caused the #48 to lose its edge. These hopefuls can offer up that Johnson has only one win so far as proof. How many times have we heard that very type of reasoning going into the Chase?
In 2009, Johnson had only two wins going into the Chase. He then proceeded to tally four victories within the playoff on his way to his fourth championship.
Similar talk was heard back in 2007 when Johnson entered the Chase in 6th place in the standings. But he went on to win six of the last twelve races, including four Chase events, on his way to that year’s championship.
And finally, there are those who will argue that it’s time for Johnson’s luck to run out. This has been said for at least a couple of season now. But the simple truth is, there has been very little luck involved in this run of unprecedented success.
All others can pick who they want, but I am sticking with my theory of ‘Why pick anyone other than Johnson?’ until it is proven that he can be beaten.
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