Monday, March 2, 2015
Okay, maybe I'm jumping the gun a little here. It is only the second race of the season. But, face it, for JJ's fans, 2014 was a mediocre year compared to what we're used to. Sure, Jimmie won four times and made the Chase but he ended up 11th in the championship points. Eleventh! Five spots below where he'd ever finished before. So, us 48 fans came into 2015 holding our breaths a little about where the team would be.
Not to worry. Jimmie won the outside pole for the Daytona 500, won his Budweiser Duel and finished fifth in the 500. And then came toAtlanta and won despite missing the opportunity to qualify so that he had to start 37th, which also resulted a terrible pit box selection that lost him spots on every stop until he passed Carl Edwards and Joe Nemechek went down a lap.
I was so happy, I even welcomed all the haters on the NASCAR sites this morning. If they are in full song, that must mean things are going right for the 48.
I thought the race was exciting myself but I read quite a few comments this morning about how boring it was or how it put watchers to sleep.
Really? It makes you wonder just what it is these people want from a race. This one had several champion drivers having to work their way to the front after the brouhaha that was qualifying - Jimmie, Jeff, Matt, Tony and, also Kevin because of a blown engine. Except for Tony, who was rather pathetic throughout the race, they all did it. I watched them going high, going low, splitting cars to go through the middle, dive-bombing slower cars. So, obviously, there was lots of passing since they had to pass 30 or 40 cars to get to the front.
The speeds were just as fast as before NASCAR took some horsepower away - although that was a big controversy among NASCAR fans last year.
There were a couple of big wrecks for people who enjoy that sort of thing.
And it's not like any one team, totally dominated. There were comers and goers throughout the race, as some hit on a set up that matched the track conditions, while others fell behind. Joey himself said his car was perfect in the first third or so of the race, then other cars "got faster and we didn't".
We got to see restarts and champion drivers racing each other hard but clean.
Yes, the top five were all the usual suspects - Jimmie, Kevin, Dale, Joey, Matt. But we had the pleasure of rooting on Martin Truex, Jr. (6th), A. J. Allmendinger (7th) and Bret Moffat sitting in for Brian Vickers in the 55 car (8th) so it's not like the smaller teams weren't included near the front.
If anyone thinks that anything NASCAR does is going to turn the sport upside-down so that Joe Nemechek finishes ahead of Jimmie Johnson and J. J. Yeley finishes ahead of Kevin Harvick in anything except a fluke, they are wrong.
Underdogs are called underdogs because that's what they are. They are fighting the odds but they are never going to consistently beat the favorites although it is a thrill when on rare occasions, they do.
You can watch NASCAR all year long and most of the time you're going to see the same guys duking it out at the front. If you don't like that, you'd probably better find another sport....although I'm not sure what sport that would be.