The Most Polarizing Figure In NASCAR: Jimmie Johnson

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Mention the name Jimmie Johnson to any NASCAR fan and you will likely get an extreme reaction. People love the guy or people hate him. The El Cajon, California native has repelled fans as much as he has drawn them to him. Why is Jimmie Johnson the most polarizing figure in NASCAR? Perhaps it starts with his success. But let’s start from the beginning. Jimmie Johnson was born on September 17 th of 1975. For “old-timer” NASCAR fans, that made him one the young, brash drivers who came into NASCAR as the sport enjoyed its biggest success in the mid 2000’s.

The fact that he came from California instead the Southeast United States where stock car racing had its roots, also works against him. The reality is Johnson had success at every level before joining what is now NASCAR’s Nationwide Series in 2000.

He won Rookie of the Year Honors in the  Mickey Thompson Entertainment Group (MTEG), The Short-Course Off-Road Drivers Association (SODA), Southern California Off-Road Experience (SCORE), American Speed Association (ASA)

There are those who believe he didn’t pay his dues in the Nationwide Series, winning only once in the series. He quickly moved to Hendrick Motorsports and the Sprint Cup Series in 2002. He immediately made an impact in stock car racing’s “major leagues”. Johnson won the first of five consecutive Sprint Cup Series in 2006. What many forget is that he had finished second in points twice in the four years prior. Like Pete Sampras who dominated professional men’s tennis for years, many saw Jimmie Johnson as a low personality ambassador for his sport. Obviously he was performing well for the sponsor of his #48 car, Lowes Home Improvement, who still maintains their sponsorship with Kobalt Tools today.

Johnson has won the prestigious Daytona 500 twice, in 2006 and 2013. He has won the Brickyard 400 in Indianapolis four times. The fact that he has won close to $150 million in his career is also a very polarizing factor.

The Fruits Of His Labor: Pictured here, Jimmie's luxurious beach home.

The Fruits Of His Labor: Pictured here, Jimmie’s luxurious beach home.

His team has remained essentially intact for 13 years now, and like some other sports dynasties, people love it or hate it. Jimmie Johnson is NASCAR’s Yankees, The Ohio State Buckeyes, and Miami Heat. Some people simply just don’t like it when one team dominates.

The Main Reason Jimmie Johnson is the Most Polarizing Figure in NASCAR

Perhaps the biggest reason Jimmie Johnson is such a polarizing figure is he is approaching the all-time records of two of the most beloved NASCAR drivers of all-time. When he won his sixth NASCAR championship in 2013, it put him just one away from tying racing legends Richard Petty and Dale Earnhardt for the most Sprint Cup Championships ever. This would put him on par with two of the sport’s greatest. Historically we don’t like it when our beloved champions are knocked off their pedestals and Jimmie Johnson, love him or hate him, is very close to doing just that.

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