By admin | November 6, 2013
By Richard Allen
Unless something really strange happens, either Matt Kenseth or Jimmie Johnson is going to walk away from the current season as the Sprint Cup champion. And with the 2013 season working its way down to a two man race for the championship, there is the natural tendency to call the combatants rivals. However, the contest between these two particular drivers just doesn’t have the feel of a rivalry.
That’s not in any way meant to discredit the abilities of either Kenseth or Johnson. Their records speak volumes about their skill at driving race cars. Both are champions and both have won big races all throughout their careers.
But at the same time, both are noted for a certain lack of personality. After all, Kenseth is often referred to as robotic, even though he does have a great sense of humor. And, hardly any discussion can be held about Johnson without the word vanilla making an appearance at some point in the conversation.
To make this seem like even less of a rivalry, these two seem to actually get along. Their children have been seen playing together, their wives socialize and the drivers race each other relatively cleanly.
It’s not very likely that either will come up with a derogatory nickname for the other like Cale Yarborough did when he labeled Darrell Waltrip as “Jaws”. And it’s not like Waltrip and Bobby Allison who seemed to genuinely dislike each other, as was also the case with Allison and Richard Petty.
Kenseth and Johnson may have a mutual respect for each other as did Petty and David Pearson, but they don’t resort the same sort of all or nothing tactics that ‘The King’ and ‘The Silver Fox’ used on each other.
Unlike Dale Earnhardt did somewhat jokingly toward Jeff Gordon after winning the second Brickyard 400, there probably won’t be any quips such as, ”I’m the first man to win this race because a boy won it last year.”
Matt Kenseth and Jimmie Johnson are driving the two best cars for the two best teams in NASCAR this year. They deserve to be the two drivers battling for the Sprint Cup title. They race each other hard. Neither tries to draw attention to himself nor tries to detract from the other. As a result, it’s hard to label what they have as a rivalry.
That’s not necessarily good or bad, it’s just not what NASCAR has typically had throughout its history among championship contenders.
Please consider reading “The timing of the ‘Saban to Texas’ story is interesting“.
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