Monday, October 19, 2009

NASCAR and Jimmie Johnson - The Winning Formula

The NASCAR Banking 500 was a time for change and a time for stability. At a time when Bank of America is under siege, the branding of NASCAR is taking some shifts. Not only was this a race which "political correctness" forced the changing of the race sponsorship, it was the last race for this track to be called "Lowes Motor Speedway".

So in the end the stability of the sport is coming from its drivers and specifically the race team of Hendrick Motorsports. Just as the NY Yankees has built is October dynasty, Jimmie Johnson, taking winning the qualifying, the practice sessions and then the race is a testament to hard work and team work and some deep pockets. Deep pockets don't win races, just as deep pockets don't always win you a world series, but it helps.

On this cold autumn evening, when the fans were bundled in blankets, Jimmie Johnson, blazed to his victory, warming the hearts of his fans and owner Rick Hendrick. This was a time to learn about setting goals when you are #1 and to continue to work hard to improve. Chad Knaus, crew chief, confidante and coach, said "You have to establish goals and push to the next. When you reach that goal move to the next goal." He had set high expectations for himself and for his team.

Battling his teammate, Jeff Gordon toward the end of the race, was one of the interesting parts of the race. Gordon had dominated Lowes Motor Speedway for a few years and to watch Johnson, battle and hold him off at the end was a punctuation mark that this in deed looks like Johnson's legacy and perhaps the year where talk turns to his future in the new NASCAR Hall of Fame.

Racing is about balance. Balancing the short run and the long run. Keeping momentum and stamina. Knowing others are gunning for you. One of the young gunners in the race was 19 year old Joey Logano, who finished 5th, battling Jeff Gordon in the closing laps. Logano said about racing Gordon "That was really cool....It was fun, I had a blast". Logano's top five finish in this race may set the tone for the next wave of young guns.

So the sport and sponsors are looking for the next great thing. You have smart articulate drivers leading the sport. Jimmie Johnson is a winner and Lowe's investment in his car shows its commitment to NASCAR, even as it had a crowning achievement of the Lowes car winning at the last night at Lowes Motor Speedway. Being witness to the Jimmie Johnson win is part of the legacy being built for the sport, Hendrick and the speedway. NASCAR and its drivers have the winning formula for the future.