Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Now It's Not That He Won't Win, but That He Wins Too Much; Jimmie Johnson Doesn't Really Mind ... Well, Maybe a Little Bit

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Now It's Not That He Won't Win, but That He Wins Too Much; Jimmie Johnson Doesn't Really Mind ... Well, Maybe a Little Bit

Article excerpt

Byline: Don Coble

Now that Jimmie Johnson has won a race this season the focus will revert back to concerns that he wins too much.

Seems like he just can't catch a break.

Fans and media spent the first 11 races reminding him that winning was the only surefire way to qualify for the Chase for the Championship. So when he didn't win any of the first 11 races - which actually matched his longest losing streak to start a season - a lot of people were sounding the alarm.

"There are more people fretting about things than myself," he said. "Give me a break."

Johnson is the object of his own success. When he wins, he wins too much. When he goes more than three months without winning, everyone wonders what's wrong.

Maybe the wind really does blow hardest at the top of the mountain.

"I guess we've created this environment for ourselves," he said after leading 165 laps, including the final nine, last Sunday to win the Coca-Cola 600 at the Charlotte Motor Speedway. "I honestly wasn't stressing. The fact that [it took] 12 races created that much buzz just means we've done a lot of great things over the years, so I'll turn it into a compliment.

"We hold ourselves to a high standard. I think we're onto some good things and have a good direction to go with our race cars."

NASCAR changed the qualifying process for the playoffs by expanding the field to 16 drivers. Race winners get in first, followed by the highest-ranking non-winners in the standings.

The victory means Johnson is in shape to win the Sprint Cup Series title for a record-tying seventh time.

Everyone believed it was a matter of time before Johnson drove his way into the playoffs. And once the Chase starts, everyone knows he will be formidable.

"You knew that was going to come," Kevin Harvick said. "They've won championships and done a great job through the years. In the end you're going to have to beat them in all ways, shapes or forms, just not on speed."

Not only has Johnson proven he can dominate on short tracks, superspeedways, intermediate tracks and road course, he also can command most of the interest.

"But honestly no matter what I do, people talk about it, and I don't mean that in a bad way," Johnson said. …

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