Vanilla Turned To Chocolate: The "New" Jimmie Johnson?

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Vanilla Turned To Chocolate: The
Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

In the eyes of some fans, the 2010 Sprint Cup season has been a year of "new" driver personalities. Some of the favorite drivers who compete every weekend have shown a different side of their personality, and fans have been quick to point this out.

The whole new driver movement started in Richmond earlier this season, when a normally fiery and aggressive Kyle Busch appeared to be more mature and calm in victory lane after winning the race.

The NASCAR community and fans were quick to dub the new Kyle Busch. The movement even hit Twitter- where the wildly popular "new" and "old" Kyle Busch accounts were born.

Busch wasn't the only driver to become a subject of the movement. After a controversial month of racing in April, at Talladega and Texas, the "New Jeff Gordon" emerged after voicing frustration with teammate Jimmie Johnson.

Gordon was clearly frustrated and wasn't hesitant to voice his opinion about Johnson with some well-worded comments. Since then, Gordon has shown a more aggressive racing style that has lived up to his new moniker.

Although not as notable or pointed out, other drivers have also shown a new side to their personalities this season. Don't forget Carl Edwards- who in Atlanta clearly had enough of Brad Keselowski's driving style after an earlier incident, and sent him flying into the safer barriers on the frontstretch.

The almost half-completed 2010 season has given us some of the best racing in quite some time. When NASCAR allowed drivers to police themselves, and took a less hands-on approach, the drivers were quick to adopt the new policy.

With this, we have seen several drivers take the law into their own hands and voice their frustrations to their fellow competitors, whether it be on or off the track.

The latest driver to show a new side to their personality, however, is Jimmie Johnson. After being a victim of the infamous "bump and run" from Kurt Busch and losing the top spot today, Johnson was quick to catch back up to Busch.

Jimmie payed him back and regained the lead. This agressive move is one that fans are not used to seeing from the usually calm and collected driver.

Some fans have called Johnson "vanilla" or "too corporate". But after being asked about the final laps, Johnson said, "on the restart Kurt (Busch) knocked me out of the way and I thought... I don't care if I win this race or not, I don't care if I finish this damn thing, I am running into him".

He did just that.

This newfound aggressive driving from Johnson isn't anything new. Rewind to this year's Talladega race where, on the backstretch, he came across three lanes to block Jeff Gordon, which spurred an accident that took out the teammate.

Up until this season, such risky moves were something Johnson wasn't known for. Johnson is notorious for keeping his nose clean to stay in contention late in the race and he usually seals the deal- an approach that has arguably made Johnson one of the best closers in NASCAR history. 

After Sunday's race, one couldn't help but wonder what has sparked this new approach from the reigning champion, but I liked it.

NASCAR was raised on the "have at it" mentality and by Johnson finally adopting it, he might have gained some new fans.

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