Hello there. How are you? How are things? Well isn’t that special. Allow me to introduce myself. I am Tyler Pierce and I’m going to be writing for TJR Sports about NASCAR. I’m also going to give recaps on current going on in F-1, Indy-Izod and NHRA unless someone is found to cover them separately. The main focus though? Turning left…although we will turn right twice a year.
I began watching NASCAR in 2005 and have been hooked on racing ever since. Being a gear head as it is, anything with wheels that goes fast instantly grabs me. Ever since then I’ve tried to soak in as much history as I can of the sport dating back to racing on the beach in NASCAR's first year of 1948.
I’m going to get a column up somewhere in the beginning of the week. This way I can give a recap what happened from week to week. Including but not limited to results, news and other items. Some weeks I’ll have an actual column with my opinion on something before recaps. Or some weeks I’ll just really give you meat and potatoes of the weekend. I’ll also include any interesting (to me) news going on in NASCAR. So with that, on with the show!
In 2006, Jimmie Johnson and the 48 team started one of the most terrifying runs of dominance, or the greatest run in NASCAR history depending on what your t-shirt says. That year he won the Daytona 500, the Brickyard 400 and the first of five consecutive Nextel/Sprint Cup Championships.
And much like any successful movie in Hollywood, there’s gotta be a sequel. Well, 2013 appears to be the beginning of Jimmie’s sequel. He’s won the Daytona 500, even pulled off the Daytona Sweep which hadn’t been done in thirty-one years along with two other wins. And three would’ve, could’ve, should’ve wins.
If Jimmie doesn’t botch the restart at Dover he’s got five wins. If fuel strategy doesn’t become a factor he’s sitting with six after Michigan. Botch restart two at Kentucky and he’s got seven wins. Seven wins in nineteen races is huge today in NASCAR. He’s also led the points since the STP Gas Booster 500….which was Martinsville…..back at the beginning of April. Yeah let that sink in. He’s had the points lead since April 7th and has four wins that should be seven.
As a matter of fact, the 48/88 shop has led the points for eighteen of the nineteen races. Jimmie led from Daytona to Bristol, where Brad Keselowski took over the lead for the lone week they didn’t. Dale Earnhardt Jr, Jimmie’s shop teammate took over at Auto Club. From there it’s been all 48.
We are rapidly approaching four months of utter and complete dominance, uninterrupted. Is it soaking in yet? His closest competitor is Clint Bowyer who is seventy-five points back. The 48 doesn’t have to touch the track at Pocono, and he still has the points lead going to Watkins Glenn.
And while we are it we just left the track dominated last year and this year by the 48, and then going to the track right after he dominated last June! Add in Michigan where he’s had a number of races he should have won. Next is Bristol where he’s improved and even gotten a win in 2010 and has found a bit of consistence since. Also Atlanta, where he’s had previous success and good runs. The only two tracks that could even make the 48 team blink is Watkins Glenn right after Pocono, and Richmond right before the chase.
Basically, short of Jimmie just taking off the next six races, he's going to make the chase. With my money on taking the points lead into Chicagoland. Then the horror/greatness really can begin.
Chicagoland is only a handful of tracks he hasn’t won at. The Joliette track is very similar to Kentucky, where Jimmie dominated before his aforementioned botched restart. The remaining nine tracks of the chase? He’s won. And he’s won convincingly! New Hampshire, Dover, and Martinsville could all be renamed Jimmie-Land. Charlotte Motor Speedway was called Lowe’s Motor Speedway for years. That’s actually not a clever play on his sponsor of Lowe’s. They actually sponsored the place and enjoyed him dominating during their sponsoring period!
Kansas, Texas, and Phoenix are all tracks Jimmie can like he has in the past, dominate. The only two tracks missing from the list are Talladega and Homestead. Talladega like has been mentioned many times before to anyone who follows the sport is like the lottery. Anyone can win (I’m looking at you David Ragan) and anyone can be taken out by massive blocking recklessness stupidity (I’m looking at you Tony Stewart. Yes I’m still bitter of the wreck sidelining Dale Jr. for two races).
That just leaves Homestead. A track where normally Jimmie’s got the advantage so large he just has to finish fifteenth and its game over. Other than last year, Jimmie hasn’t truly had to run hard there for a win to get a championship. A mechanical problem derailed that venture.
The short and skinny is the only team that can beat Jimmie Johnson and the 48 team, is Jimmie Johnson and the 48 team. For instance, he started last at New Hampshire. A small mile long track, where cars can go a lap down within twenty laps. He finished sixth….
Could I be wrong? Sure. Everyone thought the Patriots were going to run over the Giants and be 19-0 leading into Super Bowl 42 (XLII for the purist). Everyone except Giants fans and we all know how that one turned out.
If you look at truly legitimate contenders the strongest and possibly only threat is Matt Kenseth. And I don’t have faith in Joe Gibbs Racing (Yes, that Joe Gibbs). Engine failures, transmission problems, broken parts along the way have derailed Kyle Busch, and Denny Hamlin well before Matt showed up in other seasons. That hasn’t changed with him being there it seems. Matt, along with his four wins, should have won the Daytona 500 to be at five. Why did the 48 than and the 20 didn’t? Hendrick Engines held up, Toyota Research and Development Engines didn’t.
Kyle Busch hasn’t finished outside the top ten other than twice this season. When he finishes that is, considering the part failures and wrecks he’s been in. Of the nineteen races he’s got two wins, and ten top ten total finishes. Problem is the nine races he didn’t finish lead lap or just couldn’t get the car right.
Denny Hamlin has just had terrible circumstances. The wreck with Joey Lagona at Auto Club sidelined him until Talladega with back issues. What was thought to be a possible Wild Card miracle for the chase has flamed out due to bad finishes, wrecks, and yes busted parts. All resulting in the hysterical to some (okay maybe just me) tweet of “My fun meter is pegged.” after a twenty-first place finish at New Hampshire.
Anyone with any recent knowledge has a decent idea of what’s going to happen. Joe Gibbs Racing will be a threat. Only to fall due to parts failures and overheated tempers from other drivers. I doubt anyone would wreck Matt. He has a pretty good relationship with many of his fellow drivers. Kyle on the other hand, I could easily list five drivers that would put the 18 back-end first into a fence on lap one of every race for free if they weren’t penalized. Kevin Harvick would gleefully do it if!
Some will make a case for their favorite driver. Hey I’m a huge Dale Jr. fan also! But I’m realistic and I know unless he and Steve Letarte right the ship and start winning, we’re living with being satisfied for another chase appearance this season.
So could shop mate Dale Jr. go on a terror similar to the 48 and rip the reigns away? Yes, we’re going to tracks Junior is strong at or has wins. And as much as I’d gloriously run naked through the streets if he did win the title and be happy to eat my words, happen not gonna I fear.
And yes Clint Bowyer, Carl Edwards, Kevin Harvick, and Greg Biffle have all been the mark of consistency this year. However, they have to combine their wins to equal Jimmie’s. It’s another could go on a terror scenario like Dale Jr. The thing is Jimmie’s already on a terror. He’s been on it since Daytona at the start of the season. With no reason to believe he’s going to be stopping anytime soon.
Just to cover my basis there are a handful of drivers in the top ten and in wild card contentions who yes, could win. They won’t though, and are in the bottom of the points for a reason. Kasey Khane who has been the strongest of the bottom feeders is constantly getting wrecked it seems. Brad Keselowski, who I love for no other reason than he’s a Michigan boy, is suffering from Championship Hangover.
In the end though, I don’t foresee anyone taking the title from the 48. Thankfully I’ve got a soft spot for the 48, hell all of Hendrick Motorsports so I won’t be too disappointed when the inevitable happens.
“Five Time” has a magnificent chance to get a new nick name. He’s already pushing “Six Pack” as the next. Which I just love purely for alcoholism reasons alone, and is a conversation for me to have with my buddy Jack D. (think about it) so mind your manners on my privacy on that. So if this is a sequel just as glorious as the 2006 to 2010 run? We could go from “Five Time” to “Six Pack”, to “Seven-Pete”, to the dreaded nickname of all the 48 haters (forty-haters for future reference).
And that’s GOAT: Greatest Of All Time. Eight is the magic number for GOAT status. He would break the nineteen year tie for most championships between “The King” Richard Petty and the man who helped build the empire of NASCAR into what it is, Dale Earnhardt Sr. If he hits eight, game over kids for greatest driver argument. I don’t care about different points and schedule scenarios; the man has won in three different generations of cars, and done it year after year on different tracks in convincing fashion in the most competitive era.
The sequel has just started kids; the question is going to be if it’s as good as the first or potentially, maybe even frighteningly better?
Now let me give you a little recap of what went down at the Brickyard in Indianapolis. In that race Jimmie dominated the event, leading seventy-three laps and finished second to free agent (key words for next week’s column) Ryan Newman. Remember what I said about the 48 being the only team who can beat the 48? A bad pit stop by the 48 crew gave Ryan an advantage, and catapulted him and his 39 team to a win Sunday.
That moves us to eight wins in the would’ve, could’ve, should’ve pile!
That’s going to wrap up this column. I’ll be posting again sometime early next week as stated to give a recap of Pocono along with other events for the weekend and to discuss free agency in NASCAR this year. I promise the next one won’t be so bloody long!
Have a question, suggestion or potentially witty comment? Feel free to leave one below! I can also be reached the quickest, easiest and best with twitter @tpierc07. I actually just got one recently so it’s brand new! It even has that new twitter smell! On a serious note please follow me. I’m so very lonely. I need friends!
I also have Facebook (find me if ya can!) and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org for those of you who don’t do social media.
So until we meet again just know, I’ll be waiting for you at the next left turn at the tricky triangle of Pocono!.....Where in the hell is turn 4?!