Why I Rooted for Jimmie Johnson Last Sunday

I have a secret:

While watching the last race of the NASCAR season at Homestead-Miami, I was actually pulling for Jimmie Johnson to win his fifth championship.  While I duck and cover under my virtual desk (because technically I am sitting on a couch), you may gasp in horror and hurl virtual tomatoes and empty beer cans in my direction.

There, do you feel better?

So I have to ask, why is Jimmie Johnson the guy everyone uses to project the ills of NASCAR upon? Viewership is down? Blame Jimmie Johnson. Attendance low? Damn that Johnson guy! Your favorite driver lost a sponsor or a ride? Jimmie probably stole it. Fell down a flight of stairs and knocked out three teeth? Surely Jimmie tripped you. Ok, so I might be exaggerating a little bit, but surely you get my drift right?

So, as a diehard Tony Stewart fan, I ALWAYS root for him to win absolutely EVERY race.  I was cheering for him to win Homestead and he had a great running going considering he went a lap down twice, but was able to get the lap back both times and finished a respectable 8th.  But thanks to that ESPN widget on the screen during the race that tracks the points changes amongst the three drivers eligible to actually capture the championship cup, I was forced to pick a driver to pull for.

Here is my thought process for picking Jimmie Johnson since Tony was clearly not in the running for the Sprint Cup:

All three drivers in the running can be linked to my favorite driver.  Denny Hamlin is Tony’s former teammate.  Kevin Harvick is a good friend of Tony’s.  Jimmie Johnson drives for Hendrick Motorsports which supplies Stewart-Haas racing with engines and chassis. Hmm, well that was a draw. Denny Hamlin drives a Toyota. Tony and Harvick both drive Chevy Impalas.  I drive a Chevy but I use to drive a Toyota.  But still I would rather that Chevy win the manufacturer’s race...so there goes Denny.

Now it’s down to Harvick and Johnson.  Here is where the decision starts to get difficult. Harvick is clearly the underdog - and who doesn’t love a good underdog story? Not to mention the fact that Childress Racing could really use a championship - that could bolster the entire organization’s spirits well into next season.  Let’s not even talk about the momentum. 

But then you have Jimmie….the scapegoat to all NASCAR’s problems. Jimmie came into this last race in the rears so to speak, second in the standings for the first time in four years.  In previous seasons Jimmie and Chad had set the bar so high, other teams could only limbo under it, yet this year the 48 team had its struggles.  There were the teammate clashes with Jeff Gordon early in the season (everyone say it with me “Four Time’s a little upset!”), some uncharacteristically poor finishes and we all saw how one of the best pit crews in the business cracked at Texas just a few races ago.  NASCAR fans and media were suddenly seeing the underbelly of a supposedly invincible team.  So Jimmie is kind of an underdog this season too.  Not to mention that during the race at Homestead-Miami, Jimmie’s “new pit crew” was obviously feeling the pressure of making every stop the “money” stop.

So really, in the end, I rooted for Jimmie. Why? Because HMS supports Stewart-Haas Racing and because that was history! History being made is exciting to witness!

And, I have to throw this in for those who are always saying “I am sick of seeing Jimmie win!”  He won 6 races this season.  In comparison, Denny Hamlin won 8.  How did Jimmie win then? It’s all about the consistency baby.  Jimmie has 17 top 5 finishes and 23 top ten finishes.  Denny? Well he had only 14 top 5 finishes and 18 top tens.

So now that I have confessed that I rooted for Jimmie Johnson during the last race and why I chose him, I hope that you will not hold it against this tenacious and stalwart Smoke fan too hard.

Next season is right around the corner and all I can say is: Go Smoke Go!


Read More from Amy Marbach at Amy's Bad Groove

Photo Credit: PhotogJS