Like it or not, Jimmie Johnson eyes NASCAR title

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No matter how much we want to try and find some angle to show that Jimmie Johnson won’t win the NASCAR Sprint Cup Championship, the math never adds up.

We can try our sell ourselves that two plus two equals five, but in the end, we’ll always be wrong and that‘s the way it‘s been with Johnson. Rather than just say Johnson is clearly the favorite, we look to find some semblance of hope that maybe someone can step up and show some consistency to match his high level of competition, but in five of the past six years, that search was a futile one, just as it is this season.

When Johnson won at Martinsville on Sunday, he also grabbed the points lead from Brad Keselowski who had been temporarily keeping the throne warm for Johnson for the first six weeks. There still are three races remaining before we can actually call Johnson the 2012 Champion, but it’s what has made Johnson champion in those other five seasons that make it hard to believe his short 2-point lead will be challenged the rest of the way.

Fans from every sport seem to dislike consistent dominance, but not to the degree it is in NASCAR. In baseball, we all dislike the Yankees because they are always so good, but the difference between the Yankees and Johnson is that there is a massive army of supporters in the Yankees Empire. Johnson doesn’t have that.

Tiger Woods dominated golf for a long period of time, but the masses were so overly blown away by his excellence that everyone watched in awe. Same goes for Roger Federer during his run in tennis, but for some reason, that same type of respect for being at the highest level of dominance in his sport has eluded Johnson.

Rather than trying to find a way that Denny Hamlin could beat Johnson in this year’s Chase, how about we all just slow down a little bit and absorb what he’s currently doing and acknowledge that we are seeing perhaps the most dominant stock car driver in history.

No driver has ever won five straight titles like Johnson already has on his resume. If he wins his sixth this season, only Dale Earnhardt and Richard Petty stand in front of him with seven Championships.

To get that sixth title, he’ll have to perform well again at Texas, Phoenix and Homestead, three tracks that shouldn’t provide any resistance to his dominance.

The LVH Super Book has posted Johnson as a -140 favorite with Keselowski at +120 to win the title. Kasey Kahne is 15-to-1 and Clint Bowyer is 20-1 among drivers with a legitimate shot at winning. Hamlin, following his 33rd-place finish at Martinsville, is 60-1.

Johnson has a 9.7 average finish at Texas over his career that includes one win (2007) and five runner-up finishes, including in April during the first race run there this season. He hasn’t had a win on a 1.5-mile track this season, but he’s been coming awfully close, and right now, close is enough for him with three races to go. If given the opportunity to win, Johnson will take it, but his goal for the next three races as long as Keselowski is hanging around in points is to finish in the top-3, while not forcing the issue.

The driver we may want to pay special attention to this week is Matt Kenseth who has a track best 8.6 average finish over his career. He’s won twice on the high-banked track, but more importantly, he’s finished fifth or better in his past four starts there.

Beyond recent history at Texas, the reason to really like him this week is that Roush Racing finally has their stuff figured out after an aero-package change at mid-season. Kenseth won at Kansas two weeks ago and for the same reason we like Kenseth, we also like Greg Biffle to run well.

Micah Roberts is a former Las Vegas race and sports book director, and longtime motorsports columnist and sports analyst at GamingToday. Contact Micah at [email protected].

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