POSTING BY JB MADDAWG
Ah, Nascar. I love you, I hate you. You’re at your finest when some clown that looks suspiciously like Donovan McNabb proclaims “drivers are not athletes”. Pointing and laughing at the fact that one of the most overrated NFL players in history was pretty much told to go home by coach Mike Shanahan because the guy was marginally smart enough to hold the football the right way. Good on you.
Yet, when faced with internal problems, NASCAR morphs into the Kennedy family at Thanksgiving. Full of booze, tryptophan and settling disputes by wrestling shirtless on the front lawn. Minus Caroline, tears streaming and sobbing out “stop it….you guuuuuuys.” Meanwhile, a weary world real-time tweets about the issue, “smh.”
Take this past Sunday. Jimmie Johnson wins a record sixth Nascar championship. Wait, what? No, really. Fans of racing all over the country were pretty shocked when the Powers That Be in Nascar (mainly that spineless Medusozoa Brian France) proclaimed that Johnson had accomplished feats equal to no other. Obviously the folks at ESPN joined in the circle jerk by playing the knockout game with some old man name Petty and heaping an extra scoop of dirt on the body of Dale Earnhardt, Sr.
Fans of The ThrowDown will be the first to tell anyone I’m no Earnhardt fan. To me he was a bit of a jerk in life and how he drove. However, this is too far even for Nascar. Petty and Earnhardt won seven championships, not six. And the most delicious part about that: they didn’t need a new “playoff” system invented in the sport to do so. Johnson has benefitted from many things to win those championships.
The days of the driver with the most compiled points winning is over. Nascar is hell-bent on making “The Chase” or a ten race snapshot of the entire season work. They’ve altered the system time and time again only to find out the more tweaking they do, the more the financially unchallenged #48 car benefits. It’s getting to the point where Johnson’s car needs to be reformed into a giant piggy bank, spewing dollar bills all over the track. Rick Hendricks, owner of the #48 car is so rich, any rule change will ultimately benefit him. Sure, he may own other high-profile teams such as Jeff Gordon’s #24 and Dale Earnhardt Jr’s #88, but Darth Hendricks and Nascar need to have that #48 win no less than eight championships.
Back a few years ago, Nascar really wanted golden boy Dale Earnhardt Jr. to be the chosen one. He was the most popular driver, but doesn’t have the personality for the national stage. Plus, trying to get the #88 car into victory lane was like dragging a cow on Benadryl across the finish line. Junior just didn’t work. The sport had to have a new face. Petty and Earnhardt Sr. were the Michael Jordans of their time, driving the sports’ popularity into unchartered territory. The new face of Nascar has to be a true winner, have six-pack abs, a model for a wife and perfect life. Jimmie Johnson, your throne, sir.
Johnson has been clearly anointed by Nascar and ESPN. Petty and Earnhardt Sr. no longer can sell jackets, hats and brick a brak. Johnson is he who walketh among us to save the sport that’s losing fans by the busload, so sayeth Nascar.
One wouldn’t have known that by watching the celebration of Johnson’s record-breaking (there’s that spin again) Sunday night. The more Nascar interviewed Johnson on stage, the more ticker tape and fireworks were deployed, the quieter the stands at Homestead became. Only the crickets remained to usher in the majestic aura of Jimmie Johnson. It was as if the last remaining fans decided next year, a pro wrestling event would be much cheaper and have more realistic results. I’ve never seen a championship celebration sans fans. The crown is just too tarnished.
Yet this was the plan. It was a plan Nascar came up with and it is the mission. Johnson shall be the greatest driver in Nascar history. Forget about those other guys. In fact, before 2013 Chase even began, Nascar unveiled this beauty of an ad:
I remember the first time upon seeing that insult of commercial and thinking “wow, everybody go home. Nascar just picked its champ”.
Unfortunately, most race fans haven’t been around long enough to even address the fact that Nascar cooks the proverbial books, much less call bullshit on them. So, the very next day, who better to trot out and sell this nickel-plated Camelot than former driver and current rube Darrell Waltrip. What say you, Darrell?
Some fans to exception to that tweet. Here’s the most important one:
Of course, DW went on that day to spew some mindless garbage about being tough to see our heroes’ records broken. No response by anyone to my finisher:
Yeah, facts suck sometimes. But good luck, Nascar, on trying to make four decades of history disappear. Trust me, the only thing that will have vanished faster is your entire fed up fan base.