Friday, October 30, 2009

Do Something Crazy Jimmie - It's Dega!

What's not to love about Jimmie Johnson?

He wins races, looks like a model, does tons of work for charity, and is on the verge of a something that hasn't been accomplished in the history of NASCAR. Still I wonder...even if Johnson does win his fourth Cup championship in a row, will that be enough to make him famous?

At the risk of writing the biggest understatement of the year, Johnson is a racer who knows how to win. He's calm. He's patient. He doesn't send people spinning into the fence as a general rule. And he's bound and determined to fight back to the front when a race takes a less-than promising turn. But the same personality traits which have put Johnson into this history-making position may be the reasons why he isn't what you'd call the face of NASCAR.

In fact, Johnson is so "unfamous" that when he and Jeff Gordon attended Game One of the World Series this week, the cameras never honed in on the driver of the #48. In contrast, they did show Gordon for a considerable bit of time. It's as if the Fox camera crew didn't know who Johnson was. Or else they assumed their viewer's didn't.

During today's chat with the media, a reporter asked Johnson how he felt about being omitted from the Series broadcast while his teammate was not. Here's what he said: "Man, I was up there eating peanuts and having a beer. I didn't want to be on TV. We're on TV enough. Too bad it rained and the Yankees lost, but I was just having a good time."

A very PC answer from a very polished interviewee. But maybe if Johnson went "un-PC" some of the time, he'd endear himself to race fans a bit more. I'm sure Johnson would rather make racing history than get his mug shown during the World Series broadcast. But it sure wouldn't hurt the sales of NASCAR merchandise if Johnson was a bit more, well, notorious. And it would sure as heck make for some good TV.

Even Jeff Gordon said today that Johnson needs an enemy. And, there's quite possibly no better time to begin a big rivalry than Halloween weekend in Talladega. Perhaps Johnson could throw a few punches Kurt Busch's way, throw tacos at Juan Pablo or cuss out Denny Hamlin on pit road.

At the very least, Johnson could try stealing the pace car. Now that would make for some good TV--and perhaps a little fame to boot.

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