For those NASCAR fans that thought they were living in some kind of alternate universe, you may relax. Just in time for Easter, Jimmie Johnson has resurrected his hopes for an 8th championship with his victory at Texas Motor Speedway. This is not welcome news for all, but a reminder that Jimmie Johnson is still very much Jimmie Johnson.
Like many of you, this fans tends towards the underdog. Unlike many of you, this fan is more of a Ford man, so much so he will even root for Kevin Harvick under certain circumstances, even though he is more aligned with the white hat approach of Johnson, as opposed to the more tempestuous Harvick. Ryan Blaney appeared headed towards delivering a sweet story line for the O’Reilly Auto Parts 500, but alas, it was not to be. The Blaney breakthrough will have to wait for another day.
That’s 81 career victories for Jimmie Johnson, putting the 41-year old within spitting distance of such legends as Bobby Allison, Cale Yarborough and Darrell Waltrip. This is why- no matter what you think of the various championship formats that NASCAR has foisted upon since 2004- that the El Cajon, California native must respected as one of the greats.
Think about it, Johnson didn’t just win a race, he had to pass through a field full of cars to get there. Lesser racers overdrive their cars, and often either crash or use their piece up to get there. With the same cool and calm associated with David Pearson, Jimmie Johnson cruised to the checkered flag. You knew it was coming in those final laps, and there was just nothing anyone could do about it. Sigh. The rich are still rich.
Sunday provided a banner day for Hendrick Motorsports. Dale Earnhardt Jr. finished top five, and Chase Elliott cracked the top ten. Only Kasey Kahne had a day he’d rather forget from the HMS crew as he finished 38th. Yep, these guys aren’t going away. Perhaps they aren’t as formidable as they usually are- we’ll see- but Jimmie Johnson and company will be around for the long haul.