With all the hype leading into this final race we certainly had an exciting finish. Who wasn’t on edge after Denny Hamlin spun, Jimmie Johnson’s crew (continually) screwed up, and Kevin Harvick got caught speeding on pit road? I was on the edge of my seat until the final laps.
And so after 36 races and thousands of miles we have our 2010 champion – the same champion we had in 2009, 2008, 2007 and 2006. This is an accomplishment Jimmie Johnson and his crew should be proud of and something we all should be celebrating. But I suspect most of us aren’t.
The fact is, despite the hype, that end was kind of deflating.
I struggled after the race to find a way to think about this positively. It really is an extraordinary thing. But the truth is, I wasn’t really all that excited about it. The only thing I could think was, “NASCAR and ESPN thought the ratings were bad this season.”
I can’t tell you, over the past two and half years, how many people have e-mailed or commented at their waning interest in the sport over the #48′s dominance. I fear this will only make that worse. And I can’t really blame people – I’m getting bored. I say this too feeling bad for thinking Jimmie’s success is hurting the sport, but I honestly believe it is.
While they would never admit it, I think the folks at NASCAR see it too. The changes to the points that they’re considering have got to be, to some extent, as a result of what he’s been able to do – and even with today, we had a different path, but the exact same result.
I write this with no ill will toward Jimmie Johnson. I think Jimmie is a great guy and I think he and the #48 team are to be commended for all of their success. But this isn’t good for this sport. That said, I’m just not sure there is anything NASCAR or Jimmie’s fellow competitors can do about it.
With that, we’ll be off for the next week taking a little vacation (we’ll be moderating comments though). Check back next Monday for a new TNI post and our off-season schedule. We hope you all have safe and happy Thanksgiving!