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The man with the Chase marketing baton.

With a 26th-place finish at Sonoma, Dale Earnhardt Jr. is 277 points out of a Chase berth, and with just 10 races left, it looks like NASCAR’s most popular driver may not be contending for the championship.

So whom should NASCAR highlight as the Chase for the Championship approaches? Jimmie Johnson‘s quest for four? Mark Martin better than ever at 50? Tony Stewart as an owner/driver in thick of title hunt? What about Jeff Gordon? Carl Edwards? Kyle Busch?

Which driver should market the Chase?

The pursuit of a fourth consecutive title is somewhat akin to the running of Halley’s Comet — it happens so infrequently, you need to stand up and take notice when it does.

In 62 NBA seasons, only one team has won at least four consecutive championships. In the 104 years of our national pastime, only one franchise has performed the feat (accomplishing it twice). Of the 43 Super Bowls, there has never been an NFL team that has claimed three in a row, never mind four. In the 60-plus years of NASCAR, no driver has ever been coronated four consecutive times. But that could change in November.

Jimmie Johnson is a marketable guy. He has represented the sport well as its champion since 2006. He’s respected around the garage and is charitable off the track. He’s incited some of the most dramatic finishes this season, particularly Martinsville and Dover — you can bet the farm NASCAR and TV execs love drama.

Whether fans want to see it or not, he even has a sense of humor — just ask Matt Yocum (whose face was beet red for two reasons after he finished interviewing Johnson at Sonoma) or Jimmy Spencer (who could have starred in a Wanna Get Away? commercial after his poorly worded question last season after Homestead).

Winning four consecutive championships in any sport is a rarity. Jimmie Johnson could become the first NASCAR driver to do it. No better way to market this postseason than around a man Chase-ing history.

Jason Schoellen, NASCAR.COM

The opinions expressed are solely those of the writer.

The 2009 season has some pretty impressive storylines, but if I’m NASCAR, I’m marketing this year’s Chase around the driver who SHOULD be NASCAR’s most popular driver — Tony Stewart.

Smoke could do something that hasn’t been in done in almost 20 years — win the Cup championship as an owner/driver. Alan Kulwicki was the last to do so, back in 1992.

Recent history has shown being an owner/driver in the Cup Series is not an easy task. Robby Gordon and Michael Waltrip are the other current owner/drivers in the series and both are winless since becoming their own boss.

Even past champions like Darrell Waltrip and Bill Elliott have attempted the dual role, both failing to match their previous success.

That’s what makes Stewart’s story so interesting. The odds are so astronomically against him, yet, and maybe to no surprise, the former “bad boy” of NASCAR isn’t concerned about what the odds say.

To get a declining fan base to focus on the postseason, NASCAR needs some flair and Smoke is just the man to deliver. Stewart has a great personality, he is a funny interview, and fans love him. You won’t hear Stewart called “vanilla” like Jimmie Johnson and he won’t say he’s not concerned about a championship like Mark Martin. Stewart is real. What you see is what you get — and what you get is good.

Ratings are falling, and Tony Stewart and his run at history is just the guy that could pull them back up.


The opinions expressed are solely those of the writer.

Good GOD and blazing saddles, you’d have to be deaf, dumb, blind, and stupid not to be able to figure this one out. So just in case you are let me help you….JIMMIE JOHNSON!


One Response to “HEAD 2 HEAD”

  1. texaspony said

    Jimmie Johnson is awesome! He should be the one they select!

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