Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Drivers to Watch: Johnson versus Stewart

Jimmie Johnson and Chad Knaus talking before the Southern 500.
May 2012  Photo Credit: Genevieve 
The Chase season starts in five short weeks and competitors are driving hard for wins – at this point, it’s anyone’s game. All of these drivers are contenders and counting anyone out is premature. We saw Tony Stewart win five out of ten races last fall, so the chance to see something more – or less – impressive is realistic.

For this series of “Drivers to Watch” articles that we are posting over the next few days, I asked my fellow writers to weigh in with their thoughts on drivers as I compared the top contenders.

Jimmie Johnson - 4th in points - 3 wins - 10 top fives - 15 top 10s - 3 DNFs
Tony Stewart - 6th in points - 3 wins - 9 top fives - 11 top tens - 0 DNFs 

Tony Stewart is a three-time champion. He won his first in 2002, and his second in 2005. Then Jimmie Johnson came along and won five consecutive championships. In 2011, Stewart smoked the Chase (so to speak) and de-throned Mr. Five-Time. Both racing stars are at three wins this season. However, Johnson has 3 DNF's, so why is he ahead of Stewart? Because Johnson has more top 10s. Consistency is key to a successful year in racing and Stewart’s season has been a bit rocky, six finishes in 22nd or lower is not helping him out.

Fear not, Smoke turned things around last season in less than 10 races, with five wins during the Chase, including the season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway.  Johnson, on the other hand, faced misfortune in Charlotte last October, and finished fourth in points.

The chances of Johnson moving from fourth to first in time for his sixth championship is realistic, but he has to outlast his competition Teammate Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s season has been stronger, which could prove to be to Earnhardt Jr.'s benefit, leaving Johnson to finish 2012 second in points and Stewart in the top 10.

Lacy, who do you think can finish higher this season, Smoke or Five-Time? 

Tony Stewart in Charlotte before the Coca Cola 600
May 2012/Photo Credit: Genevieve
You made great points. While Johnson and Stewart both are tied for three wins, Stewart has no DNFs. But honestly I believe the duo of Johnson and Knaus will beat Stewart. Why? Well to me it seems the 48 team has a fire burning deep inside and this year he seem more at ease and relaxed. For once he isn't the returning champion and I believe that pressure is off him so now Johnson can just win races and be at ease.

As for Stewart he just got a new crew chief and lately he seems more upset easily at stuff. I wonder if his moody ways isn't aren’t hurting his performance.

And as for Dale Jr I'll just say anything is possible.


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