Lots of people hate
Winning his fourth race in his last seven starts in Sin City kept them swimming in dough while the underdogs continued their long-suffering drought. (All of the track's 13 races have been won by powerhouses Roush, Hendrick, Ganassi, or Gibbs). The only thing that may have hurt the casinos last weekend were fans who bet on "Will caution lights randomly turn on in the middle of the race?"
Seriously, the chances of a pothole and a caution light malfunction in the first three weeks of the season have got to be at least 1,000,000-to-1. That's bad luck for a sport looking rather amateurish these days.
So what are the odds that someone's going to knock Johnson off his perch anytime soon? That's how we start this week's mailbag filled with complaints. To register yours, it's as easy as
Alright, time to calm some angry NASCAR customers as Johnson Hate Mail filled my mailbox as soon as the checkered flag fell at Vegas. Some highlights:
There's one thing these fans are right about: the ratings are down significantly the first three weeks of the season, leaving NASCAR reeling. (Sundays were down a record 25 percent competing against USA-Canada Olympic hockey.) Two of those three races have been won by the No. 48, giving him 31 wins since the start of 2006 (a win percentage of 21%, or just about once every five events).
But is the dominance of the reigning four-time champ the sport's biggest problem?
I think the answer's a mix of yes and no. Remember:
But there's something to be said for the backlash on Hendrick Motorsports' dominance (their cars finished 1-3-4 Sunday, picking up right where they left off after last season becoming the first team in history to finish 1-2-3 in points). Read below...
John's point about domination should be explored, because it's not like the Yankees have caused a baseball ratings and attendance decline. in order for fans to root for a dominant team, the team has to do one of three things: accomplish something truly extraordinary, triumph over adversity, or come armed with a personality that borders on one of two extremes (love or hate).
Johnson, for better or worse, doesn't accomplish any of that. He's set records that may never be broken (four straight titles), but too many fans feel they are tainted, either by NASCAR's Chase format or that crew chief
That leaves Johnson's personality...and we've been over this many times. He's like the San Antonio Spurs: too vanilla for his own good. Fans like evil, quirky, and scandal. Why do you think
Now, if all else fails, teams like the Yankees still remain popular if there's another team challenging them that fans can rally around. What would help disperse this anti-Johnson sentiment is if a non-Hendrick car stepped up to challenge him. Could you imagine if
One wonders how many races and championships he'll win until someone does.
Even with the changes made last June, the old rules on restarts still apply: if you're on the outside line, you can pass a car on the right. It's a failsafe for drivers to pass cars that miss a shift or fail to come up to speed, although the best ones (like
And since you mentioned Danica ... here's some of the last fan mail we'll have on her for awhile after she completed her three-race stock car stint.
Good points. People forget that Danica finished top 10 in her only race without the Cup stars (ARCA, NASCAR's equivalent of single-A ball), so you wonder if more starts there would help build her confidence.
My one concern about the partial schedule is timing, Will. How can you establish a rhythm when you run three races only to disappear for four months? Danica's next stock car start comes at the end of June, and between now and then she'll be hopping in cars that run completely different. Even in
It'll be interesting to see what the souvenir sales are for the first quarter of 2010. Based on crowds alone, she's easily jumped into the top 10 past longtime favorites like
Thanks for passing it along. If NASCAR's looking for a rivalry, few stock car fights would be more popular than Busch and Danica getting into it off the track.