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Johnson fighting for his due among the greats
Question of the Day
HOMESTEAD, FLA. (AP) - Jimmie Johnson is up almost every day by 5:30 a.m., the easiest time of day to do his training.
He runs five days a week, logging up to 40 miles on foot, swims two days a week and cycles two days a week. Johnson has completed half marathons, multiple triathlons and now has his eyes set on an Ironman and the Boston Marathon, perhaps as early as next year.
Yet as the most dominant driver of the decade closes in on his sixth NASCAR championship in eight years, his accomplishments fail to earn proper due. The latest slight came from retired NFL quarterback Donovan McNabb, who said on a Fox Sports 1 program that Johnson is “absolutely not” an athlete.
“He sits in a car and he drives, that doesn’t take being athletic,” McNabb said Friday night during a debate over the most dominant athletes in sports. “What athletically is he doing?”
It triggered an immediate backlash on social media against McNabb, who ranked Johnson third on his personal list behind Tiger Woods and Kobe Bryant. Fellow drivers rallied to the defense of Johnson, who stayed silent on the subject until Saturday morning.
Johnson Tweeted his response, posting: “The debate continues… Everyone is entitled to an opinion. (hashtag)DriversAreAthletes.”
Goaded by a fan to go harder on the topic, Johnson declined.
“I choose to be respectful. There is way too much venom spewed these days,” he tweeted in response.
And that was his final word on the subject as Johnson headed off for the final two practice sessions before Sunday’s season finale race at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
He can win his sixth championship by finishing 23rd or better. Matt Kenseth and Kevin Harvick both need for something to go terribly wrong with Johnson’s Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet on the track to have any shot at snatching the title.
“We’re just working on comfort,” Johnson said between practice sessions. “I was just out there running around on old tires, trying to find a little comfort in the car.”
Business as usual for Johnson and his laser-focused Hendrick crew. Johnson’s 10-lap average ranked sixth in Saturday’s first practice, and he shot to the top of the leaderboard in the final session before Sunday’s race.
That’s what has put him in this position, and put a NASCAR drivers’ name in the debate of dominant athletes.
Johnson’s 66 Sprint Cup wins since 2002 are 30 more than any other driver has won during the same span, and a sixth title will put only the seven won by Richard Petty and the late Dale Earnhardt ahead of him on the all-time list.
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