No Need To Break Out The Shovels For Johnson Just Yet

Charlotte, NC – (Sept. 26, 2011) – It’s not quite time to put on your boots and head to the shed for a shovel, but if Sunday’s performance in the Sylvania 300 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway is any kind of barometer, it won’t be long before folks start spreading the dirt on Jimmie Johnson’s attempt to win six-straight NASCAR Sprint Cup titles.

Johnson struggled to an 18th-place finish – the last car on the lead lap – in Sunday’s NASCAR Spring Cup event at NHMS. That effort dropped the driver of the No. 48 Hendrick Motorsports Chevy to 10th in the championship standings after two ‘Chase’ events.

The sub-par performance, combined with a 10th-place effort in the initial Chase race at Chicagoland Speedway a week ago, have put ‘Five Time’ in a big hole in his quest to win yet another Sprint Cup title.

Johnson is now 29 points out of first – the equivalent of 29 positions in the new one point per position NASCAR championship system. While that number isn’t insurmountable, especially considering there are eight races to go in this year’s Chase, it will be tough for Johnson to make up that kind of ground.

If anyone can do it, it’s Johnson. That said, he’ll have to do way better than his current season finishing average of 10.9 – a total that includes a finishing average of 19.666 in his last three events.

Meanwhile, current Chase point’s leader Tony Stewart seems headed in a completely different direction. The last driver to win a Sprint Cup title before Johnson reeled off five-straight championships, Stewart has won the first two Chase races this year and now sits atop the point standings.

Since posting a 28th-place effort at Bristol in late August, Stewart hasn’t finished out of the top-10 in the four subsequent events posting a third-place finishing average in those races.

Forgive us if we’re wrong, but wasn’t it just a couple of weeks ago that the media had broken out the shovels on Stewart, peppering him with questions about what was wrong with his team and why wasn’t he winning?

The difference between the fortunes of Johnson and Stewart over the last month indicates how fickle the sport of NASCAR can be sometimes. The distance between being on top looking down and on the bottom looking up can change in a heartbeat – or in this case – less than a month of races.

That’s why we recommend you keep those boots in the corner for at least a couple more weeks. Based on the way this championship season seems to be playing out, there’s still plenty of time before any shoveling needs to be done.

Sleep Cheap?

The Hampton Inn in Bow, NH is a nice hotel. Clean, comfortable and less than 30 minutes to New Hampshire Motor Speedway, it’s a good place to stay for the weary NASCAR traveler.

It’s also a rip off.

For years, hotels in NASCAR race markets have been jacking up their prices gouging race teams and fans with exorbitant room rates. This past weekend, the Hampton in Bow inflated their normal room rate by more than 60 percent to $229 a night for the Sprint Cup weekend at NHMS.

Yup, $229 a night for a Hampton. Like I said, it’s a nice hotel, but this isn’t the Ritz Carlton by any stretch of the imagination.

The bill for my three-day stay – which included a Wednesday in the mix – exceeded more than $600. Frankly, that’s obscene.

In a time of tight money when tracks are trying to hold the line in ticket prices, this kind of price gouging is exactly what makes the difference between attending and not attending an event for many fans.

By the way – the price for a room this weekend at the Hampton in Bow – $149. Evidently, hotel management isn’t that interested in gouging the ‘crowd’ that will be there this weekend to check out the changing fall colors.

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