Nothing’s Johnson’s fault

Published 12:00 am Saturday, May 7, 2005

Is it just me or is Jimmie Johnson really turning into the guy that never does anything wrong and it is always someone else’s fault? Johnson has been involved in more than his share of wrecks so far this year and every one has been another driver’s fault; or so Johnson says.

At Bristol, Johnson boots Jeff Burton into the wall from behind, but that’s just racing and Burton should have gotten out of the way. Tony Stewart felt Johnson’s recklessness in Phoenix by getting hit in the rear and run into the wall, but Stewart checked up and he caused the wreck. All this according to Johnson.

Last week in Talladega, there were two major wrecks. The first involved 25 cars, which is over half in the race. The other wreck occurred with eight laps to go and affected the outcome of the race.

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Both of the wrecks have one thing in common – Johnson.

Don’t misunderstand, Johnson is a very talented driver and some consider him to be the best in NASCAR right now. My issue with Johnson is that he seems to have a problem with reality. When you hit someone in the hindquarters, it is your fault. When you bounce off the outside wall and run half the cars off the track, it is your fault. I don’t think Johnson would be taking so much heat right now if he would just admit to making a mistake. Seems he has a problem taking responsibility.

All that said, Johnson escaped Talladega holding on to the points lead, even though he finished outside the top 10 for the second consecutive race after having his 13 race top-10 streak broken. Jeff Gordon won the race in dominating fashion and moved to third in the standings, one position behind Kurt Busch. Several drivers made huge jumps in the standings after Talladega. Tony Stewart gained eight spots to sixth, Dale Jarrett jumped six spots and sits in seventh and Jamie McMurray rose five spots and rounds out the top 10.

It has been 21 years since we have had NASCAR cup racing on Mother’s Day weekend. The race in 1984 at the old Nashville track was the last time the cup guys competed on this particular weekend. I guess this week’s Dodge Charger 500 at Darlington is significant for that reason and the fact that this will be the first race under the lights that Darlington has hosted. It should be real special. The &uot;Track Too Tough To Tame&uot; should be shining in all her glory Saturday night as she eats up drivers and cars.

Johnson swept the races here last year, winning both. In fact, he averages a seventh place finish at Darlington. However, his luck has turned sour over the last couple of weeks and I don’t think the victory streak will continue this week. Jeff Burton has been coming on strong lately and has a pretty good history at Darlington. Burton is a two-time winner, both while driving Fords, and he is my pick to take Richard Childress Racing back to victory lane.

This race should be fun to watch and the coverage begins at 7 p.m. on FOX. Have fun, enjoy the race, and don’t forget to tell your mother that you love her.

Jeff Findley is publisher of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald in Ahoskie, N.C. His racing column appears in several newspapers in the Southeast. He can be reached at