Is NASCAR Trying To "Jimmie Proof" The Sport and Chase?
He's arguably been the man to beat in NASCAR Sprint Cup racing since 2006, frustrating competitors with his team's uncanny ability to triumph when it really matters.
From crew chief Chad Knaus' brilliance and attention to detail with personnel and equipment to the man who pilots the No. 48 Lowe's Chevrolet, nobody's been able to come up with an absolute way to dethrone the current kings of stock car racing.
Pit him against a former champion?
Nah, Kenseth was no match for the Johnson Express in 2006.
Have your boss and legendary teammate as your adversary?
Gordon didn't quite have enough momentum to derail J-Squared.
Throw Carl Edwards and Mark Martin into the mix?
More like throw bricks his way and even that couldn't damage the seemingly indestructible shield of these four-time champions.
In other sports, rules changes, whether it be a minor address to a minute protocol or a significant change to the league's schedule, often get the light of day in trying to give fans and competitors something to look forward to in shaking up the status quo.
After all, who wants to see the same athlete or team constantly winning games and titles all the time?
Unless you're a fan or part of the organization that's riding those history breaking streaks, you're looking for some respite or sign that a change will be on its way. Think of it like an extra ingredient that makes that predictable but solid dinner dish potentially more delicious, with a kick or two that'll leave a lasting impression on you for a while.
Well, NASCAR may have the answer for fans and critics who feel that the current schedule in the "regular season" and Chase races favor Team 48: a major realignment is in order for the 2011 campaign.
Call it "Jimmie Proofing," which seems to be a derivative of the universal sports term in "Tiger Proofing," a word used to describe how the game of golf has attempted to make the game and its courses more challenging for the best player in the sport.
Whether it be a course that has more roughs or a point system more confusing than the BCS from the NCAA football ranks, leagues look for ways to make something of a good thing even better.
Now, the questions that come to mind with the new schedule and the changes that'll be implemented in it are:
- Will this indeed be the panacea for those looking for the end of Jimmie Johnson's title reign?
- Isn't this admittedly saying that the best team in racing has gotten the sport on its collective knees because it's that good?
- Is this the best way to truly ensure a title not won by the No. 48 team?
Think of it like this - OK, so there's a type of salary cap used in the major four sports, which are often designed to promote parity and "fair competition" within divisions and leagues of teams.
In other words, there's not a dominant team every year - so it's designed to do in its game. However, dynasties existed, even when such a change was implemented in the stick and ball events, like MLB's New York Yankees, the NFL's New England Patriots, and NBA's Los Angeles Lakers.
Perhaps the only exception to this trend is the NHL, which at least has figured out how to produce a different winner without totally "cheapening the sport."
It's almost as if NASCAR's pointed out the obvious that the last 10 tracks and races of the year are the No. 48's specialties, as in that as soon as they make The Chase, it doesn't matter if they start first or 12th in the postseason. More or less, it's as if they just step it up four notches and leave the regular season's best in the dust.
As Athlon Sports' NASCAR preview mentioned in its 13 Questions segment, it's as if the No. 48 team just waits for the last ten races and automatically, they just put it into fifth gear just when the competition is trying to prepare itself to even plot and plan their efforts in the final stretch.
No matter the track, points system, or luck encountered by their competitors or individual efforts, when it's crunch time, it's definitely Jimmie Time.
Will the new schedule translate into the end of the No. 48's magnificent dynastic run? Maybe, maybe not.
Certainly, all good things do come to an end in some form or fashion, unless this team's the proverbial Energizer bunny.
However, the means to justify the end of their streak may not be all that logical. Then again, does logic even exist in any sport these days?