Monday, November 4, 2013

Muses and Patron Saints

Jimmie Johnson


A Muse is a goddess who presides over one of the arts - painting, music, dancing, writing. Creative types believe that their inspiration comes from their Muse. When she is giving you her full attention, everything goes right. The words flow; the poetry sings; the music exalts; the picture seems to paint itself. The artist is the conduit from the Muse to the art itself. It happens only rarely that your Muse shines her light directly on you. It is a wonderfully exhilarating moment when it happens.

I don't know if auto racing has anything comparable to a Muse. Drivers do have a Patron Saint, Elijah the Prophet. He was given his designation because he was taken to heaven in a flaming chariot. I'm not sure I like the connotation behind that but there you go.

Whatever....be it Muse or Patron Saint, whoever that spirit is had his or her eye on Jimmie Johnson on Sunday at Texas. The 48 car was in complete control of the race from start to finish. No one else could get close to him. He ended up with a perfect driver rating of 150, which are pretty hard to come by. This is only his forth in a rather illustrious career.

Someone on one of the television shows made the connection of the Sixes. This is JJ's 66th win over all, his 6th win this season and he's going for a six-pack. I'm not much into superstition but on the other hand, if there can be Muses and Patron Saints, why not numerological portents?

I still consider this championship too close to call. Jimmie Johnson and Matt Kenseth are so evenly matched, it will probably be small things that make a difference of a few points one way or the other that will be the deciding factor - a slightly slow pit stop, being on the outside on a restart, the set up that's off just a hair, a few spots in qualifying.

Jimmie and Matt are a matched set in temperament too. They are both funnier than they are given credit for. They are both more passionate than they are given credit for. They both stay cool in the face of adversity. They are both devoted family men. They both have outstanding crew chiefs and extraordinary owners.

I make no bones about being a 48 fan. If I got to make the call, Jimmie would win Number Six. But I won't feel too badly if it turns out to be Matt. Either of these two drivers will make an admirable champion and role model for NASCAR.

Of course, if Jimmie is the ultimate winner, there will be no end to the wailing and gnashing of teeth from the haters, no end to the cries of "cheater", no end to the number of comments on the NASCAR sites informing the rest of us that the writer will NEVER WATCH NASCAR AGAIN! So be it. Don't let the door hit you in the butt on your way out.

In other NASCAR news, hurray for Martin Truex, Jr. getting the ride in the 78 Furniture Row car. It must have been scary to be without a ride so close to the end of the season. He got shafted royally in the whole Richmond fiasco and didn't deserve it so I'm glad to see him land at FRR. Maybe he'll actually enjoy being The One to get all the attention and resources.

Once again in Nationwide, the Cup teams didn't even bother to give the Nationwide drivers a kiss before they screwed them over. I hope NASCAR does something about this next year. It's not about championship points, it's about trophies and money and W's on a resume.

I loved watching the 48 dominate in Cup but I hated watching the 22 dominate in Nationwide. Why? Because Jimmie was racing against his peers and Brad was racing against lesser funded and lesser experienced drivers. It's apples and oranges.