I could not believe it when I heard it. The small snippet on the scanner conversation between Jimmie Johnson, who had just blown a sure win by jumping the start in Sunday’s Fed Ex 400, spotter Earl Barban, and crew chief Chad Knaus. I thought I heard the quote, but having it replayed today on SiriusXM’s NASCAR Radio channel proved I did hear that. My only question is who is “they” and why do they not want Johnson to win?
Knaus uttered the words, as far as I can tell, but I think he meant NASCAR, a criticism that might be cause for a big fine if spoken on ESPN, but apparently scanner communications are not considered as bad as national television. Nevertheless, for a team who has won so much and been so brilliant, it seemed a little extreme for me. Let me just say that Jimmie Johnson will go down in the annals of NASCAR history as one of the greatest of all time, but the arrogance of the whole situation turns me off. It’s probably just me, but he was not the first driver penalized for jumping the start, and no, NASCAR doesn’t have an agenda against any driver. Johnson broke the rules and he was penalized.
I’ve met Chad Knaus, Jimmie Johnson, and Rick Hendrick. They are all nice fellows and have been cordial when I’ve talked to them. I like them a lot. Hendrick has that southern charm, Johnson looks you in the eye when he talks to you and Knaus is a walking encyclopedia who is always on task and never gets off of task, but there is an arrogance that disturbs me. The attitude is that they are the best (which they are) and they let everyone know it. They couldn’t have made a mistake because they don’t make mistakes. On the NASCAR Sprint Cup Media Tour, we were bussed to the Hendrick shops where the event was held in the Hendrick Motorsports gift shop, and there upon one wall was Rick Hendrick’s 10 Keys to Success. They are not much different than the corporation I am a part of, but one of the keys says, “Learn to accept your mistakes, but make them only once.” Apparently, they forgot that part of the 10 keys.
Johnson, even with the mistake, still is 30 points or 30 positions ahead of Carl Edwards. Less than a race ahead of the No. 99 driver, but it is still a handsome lead. He will win the regular season championship (which means nothing) and if it holds, will be the odds-on favorite to win another championship, but for the No. 48 team to think that NASCAR doesn’t want them to win is ludicrous. They don’t operate that way. They are the best, they know it, and they have a problem with being called out on their mistakes, I find it even more interesting that Jeff Gordon felt like he had to wreck Clint Bowyer at Phoenix because he robbed owner Hendrick of his big win at Martinsville. Really?
There is nothing I hate more than arrogance, but it seems that one teams feels it is their Devine Right to win races, and that troubles me. I see a NASCAR world where victories are equally distributed between all teams, regardless who is the owner or how many championships they’ve won. Chad was right, the “they” he talked about was the fans and not the sanctioning body. A day when more than Joe Gibbs Racing and Hendrick Motorsports do not lead the majority of the laps, and competition is evened out—that is what the fans want. That makes it up to Roush, Petty, Childress, Ganassi, and Penske to change this arrogance to real competition.