In the past 24 hours, the Internet has been lighting up with accusations that Sunday’s race at Sonoma was a fixed affair. For the fourth time this season, four time champ Jimmie Johnson pulled into victory lane and fans’ warning bells started to ring.
Perhaps Johnson taking the checkered flag wouldn’t be as much of a controversy if only a lap earlier, leader Marcos Ambrose hadn’t tried to coast up a hill during a caution, coming to a complete stop and losing six spots. This sent the lead to Johnson and sent some fans into a rage.
Within seconds of the call by NASCAR, twitter and other sites were filled with comments about NASCAR’s bias towards the 48. Fans talked about other races where the leader had not stayed at the head of the line during a last lap caution and still won. Many of those people did not believe Ambrose had come to a complete stop and should not lose the lead.
What fans don’t realize is that Jimmie winning could possibly be the worst thing that happened to NASCAR last weekend. Jimmie is possibly the most hated driver right now, even ahead of Kyle Busch.
Fans are tired of him winning and would give anything to see him lose. Fans are losing interest in seeing the same people in victory lane so having a fresh face would have been a great marketing move for the coming weeks.
If NASCAR was to rig the race, they definitely would have turned it against Johnson. Yes, NASCAR is known for supposedly rigging races with debris cautions but that is only to make entertaining finishes for the fans. Watching a champion driver pull away and win by multiple seconds is not entertaining.
Knowing the temperaments of drivers, very few would bow down to the higher powers if they gave the command to lose the race. Race rigging has been talked about for years and there’s no way it would stay quiet, especially with the drivers chasing points in this day and age.
In conclusion, thinking that the race was rigged to help Jimmie may be one of the craziest ideas I’ve heard this summer. It not only hurt NASCAR in the way of fans complaining about another win from “Four Time," but it also put them back in the bad spotlight for the second week in a row after Denny’s debris comments last week.
There is no doubt that while what happened with Marcos was extremely sad to witness (have you seen the post race interview?) Jimmie deserved the win.
NASCAR also deserves kudos for following the rules even though it was in their best interest to let someone other than Jimmie take the checkered flag.