Johnson likes to play it smart

Avoiding foolish risks part of his winning formula

March 30, 2011

Jimmie Johnson will never win over a percentage of NASCAR fans that thinks he is 1) too boring, 2) too cute, 3) not Southern enough. But he is a five-time defending Cup champion for a good reason:

He doesn't drive recklessly. He doesn't get caught up in the emotion of payback or tradin' paint. Sunday was a case in point. He had a shot to make a move on Kevin Harvick after Harvick passed him on the final lap at Fontana. But he backed off, with good reason. Victories are important. However …

"I mean, there is the flip side," Johnson said. "When Kevin was alongside of me off of four, I could have maybe tried to squeeze the door, do something a little stupid there. I'm like, if I spin out here and finish 15th because I'm down on the grass, can't get the car fired up, it would just be stupid."

And Johnson does not do stupid. And that's why he is in fifth place in the Cup standings, right in the thick of the Chase in the early going. Plan for him to stay there a while.

Parental control: Jeff Gordon is trying to juggle two demanding responsibilities these days: trying to remain an elite driver on the Cup circuit and trying to help raise two little ones. Of course, his influence on his two children is huge.

"I heard that Ella told you she wants to be a racecar driver?" Ellen DeGeneres asked Gordon on her television show recently.

"I get asked this all the time," Gordon said. "Do you want your daughter to be a racecar driver? I just want to approach it the same way that my parents approached it with me and my sister. Whatever opportunities or passions you see as a parent your kids interested in, pursue that and see where that takes them. That's what happened with me. We found racing at a young age. My parents introduced me to it and it just took off.

"I hadn't thought about it a whole lot, certainly with my daughter, and we were driving down the road the other day and out of nowhere she said, 'Papa, I want to be a racecar driver.' And I said, 'You do? Why do you want to be a racecar driver?' (She said) 'Because I love you.'"

"It just crushed me and at the same time, I thought, 'Oh, now I'm going to have to get a race car,'" Gordon said.

No tweets for Junior: Dale Earnhardt Jr. doesn't do Twitter, so don't expect any 140-character updates on the double cappuccino he is having for breakfast.

"I used to have a Myspace page and I used to have a Facebook page, (but) I don't anymore because it was just too much responsibility," he told reporters recently. "I felt like you had to plug in and be involved with it so much and I thought personally I don't need to do it. I understand we use it on the business side of it and how it works for (JR Motorsports), but personally, you know, it would be fun for about a month and then I would start to feel like it was a job where people expected me to do it."

George Diaz

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