Is Jimmie Johnson Bad for NASCAR?

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.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of

Michelle Lippold
Michelle Lippold
I've grown up watching racing of some sort from midgets to Stock Cars since I was a child. I run the FB page Everything NASCAR but really want to explore my love of writing and racing together. I love both things so I decided to try combining them.


  1. I have to agree with the posts. There are no more rivalries. Back in the day, you had them. Now you don’t. Kyle Busch for that matter is getting slack for his word choice on the radio during a race because he is sponsored by M&M’s and kids listen. I’m sorry, that’s the parents decision to let kids listen. I am not a Kyle Busch fan by any means. I hate to see him win, but at least he has a personality unlike all the other NASCAR puppets created after 2001. There may be more lead changes, etc now than before, but the rivalries and the ability to actually get an autograph from drivers in the past was what put me in the seats and going to autograph sessions and waiting hours in line. Until NASCAR changes back to that and drivers speak their mind, this sport will continue to decline and TV will do its best to stay off the declining attendance.

  2. Don’t be fooled, there are alot of us who didn’t like Jeff Gordon, and still don’t like Jeff Gordon. Never will like Jeff Gordon.

  3. The difference in those drivers before Johnson were the rivalries. With Gordon vs. Dale…what more could you ask for, young lion vs. old lion. That’s classic in any sport. The problem with Johnson is he’s been so dominant that fans simply don’t care. With Gordon…fans loved to hate him, especially the Earnhardt masses. With Johnson, fans have largely been apathetic. Sure that’s changing somewhat but not because of Johnson himself…simply because fans are bored with it all. In any sport you need rivalries, you need the good vs. the bad. Since Johnsons reign…there is no rivalry in the sport. Gordon vs. Junior vs. Stewart never materialized and for the most part Johnson has been so vanilla that fans just didn’t care. No, like The Chase format (of which JJ has benefitted from the most) he hasn’t been good for the sport. It certainly hasn’t grown because of either. Far different then how the sport grew with Dale vs. Jeff. Hopefully the new guard of the Dillons, Larson, Wallace etc… will generate those rivalries. And hopefully we can ditch The Chase. Until then, my sport will continue to suffer.

  4. You may think you’re comparing apples to oranges but you’re not. Today’s apples have been genetically modified by the corporations that keep the lights on for NASCAR and those apples are spoiled rotten. It’s not just Johnson that’s bad for NASCAR, it’s all of them. When a driver opens his mouth it’s usually a string of well rehearsed sponsor mentions and very little passion and personality. Ever sit through the audio at nascarmedia? These drivers are BORING. And when they’re not boring they’re condescending. (Listen how often the word “Obviously” is used, as if to say the people they’re addressing are idiots.) When it comes to interacting with fans they hide behind Twitter. They interact with, what, maybe less than 1% of the people who Tweet? I’m supposed to be impressed with a re-tweet, really? And autograph sessions last maybe half an hour? What pampered babies these millionaires have become. At the height of Garth Brooks’ career he signed autographs for like 8 hours straight. He was the biggest thing on the planet. You’re not going to see Jimmie doing that; but he might direct his publicist to put out a memo to the sport’s apologists about the behind the scenes things he does just so we know what a nice guy he is. So this isn’t about one guy winning too much…it’s about us losing touch with drivers we used to be able to identify with.

  5. In your article you stated part of the reason, in my eyes, the networks have taken it (Johnson and Gordon) to an all time “shove it down my throat” mentality.
    I was a big Davey Allison and Earnhardt Sr. fan. I respected them because of there talent. Put them in any car with any crew chief and they could win any race.

    Not so with the Hendrick boys, when your backed by an owner that is worth billions and more than 700 employees backing these drivers up with equipment, that kinda takes the whole sportmanship approach down.
    It’s like saying, have the Frances bring a car to the track and me bring a car each week to race for a championship.

  6. The hot driver will always be hated by every other drivers fan. It’s the nature of NASCAR, and sport in general. Yankees fans hate the Red Sox. Cowboys fans hate the Redskins. I have already ceased to watch NASCAR on a regular basis and will no longer follow the sport after this season. Why? Because what I see now is a watered-down, over commercialized version of the sport I loved . During the glory days of NASCAR there were real rivalries, real men playing a dangerous game with speed and fast, unpredictable cars. Single car teams could underdogs a shot. Sponsors went to the talent, and talent won races. Now the sport is so expensive, and the economy is so bleak the sponsorship money goes to the most “marketable” driver. If a driver can bring a sponsor to the team they get the ride. It’s a beauty contest. If you don’t believe that, look at the career of Danica Patrick. Add the fact that the racing is now boring, attendance is expensive AND the same handful of drivers seem to win every week and it is obvious why half the grandstands are empty every week and viewership is down. NASCAR publicly tries to blame the economic downturn for all its woes. Odd, the NFL doesn’t seem to have the same problems. This is one lifelong fan who is putting his love affair with the sport slowly to bed. And the reason isn’t Jimmy Johnson.


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