When Jeff Gordon won the race on Sunday, I decided I would go to some various Facebook NASCAR groups outside of my own. Although I saw some fans very happy that Gordon won, I also saw quite a few comments saying, “anybody but Jimmie”. I was surprised in a way to see how many people seemed to be saying that along with all of the “debates” from fans. I also noticed people saying that if Johnson wins the 2013 Sprint Cup Championship, they will refuse to watch NASCAR anymore.
So I started thinking about how I felt throughout my many years as a fan and how I felt about Johnson if he wins the championship this season. As a Dale Earnhardt Sr. fan, when Earnhardt was winning races and his championships, did I even consider it would be bad for the sport? No and why, because he was my driver. Then came along a hot shot named Jeff Gordon or “Wonder Boy” as Earnhardt use to say, and Gordon started winning and I disliked him just because of just that, he was winning. I saw the other side of that coin and frankly didn’t care for it all that much.
Next came the next best thing, Johnson. Suddenly Gordon didn’t seem all that bad to me after all. So now here we are with Johnson poised to dethrone Dale Earnhardt Sr. and the “King” Richard Petty and I think that is the reason that he is liked or even hated.
Let’s face it, Petty was the “King”, Earnhardt Sr. the “The Intimidator”, Gordon the “Wonder Boy” and now we have Johnson, “5-time”. I remember when Gordon was winning, I swore I was never watching NASCAR again, but yet I did. When Earnhardt died, I swore I would never watch it again, and yet I did. Why? Because above all things I am a racing fan plain and simple.
My point is, some may say he is bad for the sport, but there will always be a Johnson. Perhaps Kyle Larson or Austin Dillon is next in line? Who’s to say? We watch NASCAR because we want to see the next “Big Thing”, to either cheer for or to be against.
So will NASCAR lose fans if Johnson wins the championship this season? Perhaps, but I think most will stay because love it or hate it, its our sport and we are #NASCARStrong.