Championship run not good for sport
Published 8:40 pm Monday, November 22, 2010
First off, congratulations to Jimmie Johnson and his crew for winning their fifth consecutive Sprint Cup championship.
That being said, his five straight victories in NASCAR’s highest series are not good for the sport.
Why you might ask?
It’s because NASCAR is having a hard enough time attracting and keeping sponsors without having such a dominant team on the circuit. I have to believe that there are a lot of people out there who don’t want to invest money in the sport of NASCAR because they feel like they have no chance of winning it’s biggest prize — the championship.
It’s not the fault of Johnson, his team or his owner Rick Hendrick, but it is a problem.
Week after week cars show up at the track without sponsorships. Some of them attract just enough sponsor money to put the name of the company, movie or whatever on the hood of the car.
I know if I wanted to sponsor a race team, I would have to take a serious look at whether or not it would be in the Cup series or one of the other lower series. I would like to be able to feel that the money I spent would go toward a championship contender instead of someone running in the middle of the pack or even the top 10.
This year’s Chase for the Championship was much closer than the previous four titles, but when all was said and done, there really wasn’t anyone to contend with Johnson on Sunday at Homestead, Fla. Denny Hamlin, who held the points lead heading into the final race tried desperately to keep pace with Johnson and his team, but couldn’t.
Kevin Harvick ended up finishing second in the final standings, but wasn’t close enough to make a serious run at the No. 48 Lowe’s bunch.
NASCAR is all about being fair and equal on the race track. It’s hard for the casual observer to believe this is happening when one team is dominating the sport. One team, one owner has been at the head of the class for nearly a decade now. How is this fair competition?
Hendrick Motorsports does it better than anyone else right now and I don’t see that changing anytime soon. There are other multi-car teams out there with the resources to make a run at Johnson, but those are very limited. The average Joe race team in my opinion doesn’t stand a chance.
And that is bad for the sport of NASCAR.
I don’t know what the answer is, but someone better find one pretty soon. Ratings are not what they once were in NASCAR and the sponsorship money is drying up pretty quickly. NASCAR has made moves to help owners with expenses in these tough times, but so far they haven’t help even the playing field.
Even the late great Dale Earnhardt couldn’t win five straight championships, although he did dominate over a period of about 10 years, winning seven titles.
At this pace, however, Johnson will blow past both Earnhardt and Richard Petty with little or no trouble. He already passes his teammate and car owner Jeff Gordon, who won four championships pretty quickly and has yet to find the ability to capture his fifth.
NASCAR is a wonderful sport, but it can be its own enemy. If Johnson and Hendrick Motorsports continue to rack up titles, the sport itself may quickly find itself in even more trouble than it is right now.
Let’s hope that doesn’t happen.
Scott Novak is sports editor for Leader Publications. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org