Wednesday, June 3, 2015
I recently went back to work, which means I'm once again spending lots of time in my car, which means I'm once again listening to hours of the NASCAR channel on Sirius radio, which means I'm often irritated by what I hear.
This week was typical. On The Morning Drive, Pete Pistone picked first, then the producer in the booth named his choice, then it was Mike Bagley's turn. Mike chose Jimmie, not because he thought Jimmie would win, he hurried to say, but simply to keep the fourth guy, who was in the lead, from being able to take the 48.
There is a ho-hum factor about Jimmie that I've never understood. You'd think people who make their living analyzing NASCAR would know better but it often seems that they don't. Is it because they've grown so tired of having to talk about him? Is it because Jimmie just goes quietly about his business of stacking up the stats? Does excellence get boring when it goes on too long?
This year I've heard much about Kevin Harvick, ("consistently has the fastest car on the track!") not that he doesn't deserve it, and I've heard much about Martin Truex, Jr., ("top ten after top ten after top ten!)" not that he doesn't deserve it. I've heard about Joey Logano ("he's mastered the art of qualifying up front!") I've heard about Denny Hamlin. I've heard about Kurt Busch. I've heard about Kyle Busch.
Not that they all don't deserve it - but it seems that Jimmie is barely in the conversation. You'd think he was having an off-year, just limping along as best he can, probably not much threat for the championship in 2015.
But if that's so, then how has he pulled off winning four times only halfway through the regular season? That's twice as many trophies as anyone else. How does he manage to end up in front of Harvick's consistently fastest car (every time Jimmie has won, Kevin has been second) and Truex' reliably top ten car and Joey's front-row-starting car?
Granted, the 48 definitely needs to step it up on Friday. Their qualifying efforts have been fairly dismal - which makes their wins all the more impressive. Jimmie didn't make it to the line in time to qualify at all in Atlanta and still came from the rear to take the checkered flag.
This win at Dover was Jimmie's tenth at that track. Only four other drivers have ever won ten times at the same track, and they were all legends of the sport (Petty, Pearson, Earnhardt, Waltrip). He lacks one lap of having led 3,000 laps at Dover. Leading that many laps at one track is another feat only a few of the best have ever managed.
Dover was Jimmie's 74th win, which makes him only three short of matching Dale Earnhardt. And, of course, he lacks just one championship to put him on the top of the NASCAR mountain with Richard Petty and Dale Earnhardt.
With four wins already, of course, Jimmie is a lock for the 2015 Chase. He's the only driver who has made the Chase every year since its inception. He has won at least two races every year of his Sprint Cup career. He's a lock for the Hall of Fame the first year he's eligible. I could go on.
I guess it really doesn't matter if reporters and radio hosts give him less recognition than he deserves. I guess it really doesn't matter if many NASCAR fans hate him for whatever reason.
I guess, in the end, his accomplishments can speak for themselves.