Sunday, May 16, 2010

Johnson Can't Call It a Comeback ... Yet

For a while on Sunday afternoon, Dover Downs looked like it might be the scene of Jimmie Johnson's return to dominance.

Not that Johnson has been absent from Victory Lane for all that long. However three DNFs in a season is highly uncharacteristic for the No. 48 team. 

After battling Kyle Busch for the lead both on and off pit road, Johnson made a crucial and atypical mistake on his last pit stop.  He sped on pit road, which cost him a pass-through penalty with less than 40 laps to go.  More importantly, it killed his chance for crucial track position.

Johnson brought the Lowe's Chevy home in 16th spot - robbing fans of the chance to see a fender-banging battle-to-the-finish between him and Rowdy Busch.  More's the pity.

So what's wrong with Mr. Perfect? Is all the "Johnson's lost-it talk" getting JJ off his game?  Did the boos of fans when he hit the Darlington wall mess with his psyche?  Or did that darn #hexthe48 hashtag, which surfaced on Twitter during the broadcast, work its voodoo after all?

Hard to say.  But from where I sit, Johnson's return to Dover marked an upswing in his recent performance. He had the car to beat hands-down.  It was simple user error which cost him the race.

Let's face it - even four-time champions aren't flawless.  What makes this string of races so shocking is that we rarely see Johnson's imperfections on display so often.

Yet mark my words - Johnson will win soon. And he will contend for the championship this year.  It just may be more difficult (and more fun to watch) than it's ever been.

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