Friday, October 19, 2007

To bump or not to bump

MARTINSVILLE, Va. – You know, Jimmie Johnson is in a tough spot.

Think about it. Earlier this year, Johnson was leading the race at Martinsville Speedway and his Hendrick Motorsports teammate Jeff Gordon rapped on his rear bumper about 20 times trying to move Johnson out of the way to win the race.

Johnson held on and Gordon finished second. There was a lot of discussion afterward about the relative propriety of how they raced each other, and that has been renewed in advance of Sunday’s Subway 500 at this .526-mile track.

The accepted wisdom now seems to be that it’s more difficult to move somebody out of the way with the car of tomorrow, although Johnson says it doesn’t take these guys long to figure how to do what they need to do.

So there’s a level at which a higher degree of contact seems to somehow be more acceptable here. That sort of "do what it takes" attitude is, for some reason, easier to justify now than it might have been before.

For everybody but Johnson, that is.

Think about it. If Johnson is running second behind Gordon in the final laps on Sunday, he’s in a no-win situation.

If Johnson bumps Gordon hard enough to get him out of the way and goes on to win the race, all Gordon has to do is cry foul. Since Gordon didn’t "take" a win from Johnson in that way, Johnson would be in position to take some heat if he did that to Gordon.

If Johnson doesn’t bump Gordon at all, fans will be all over him for not trying hard enough to beat his teammate or for not trying hard enough to win because of the Chase for the Nextel Cup.

To bump or not to bump? Either way, I think Johnson is in a tricky spot. Or at least could be.


okla21fan said...

Is it really 'racing' if one has to resort to bumping in order to pass in the first place?

Anonymous said...

bump for the crowds! he needs to learn to be a crowd pleaser.