NASCAR: Jimmie Johnson's Loss of Fifth Championship Self-Inflicted?

Sandra MacWattersCorrespondent IApril 6, 2010

LAS VEGAS - FEBRUARY 28:  Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe's/Kobalt Tools Chevrolet, celebrates in Victory Lane after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Shelby American at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on February 28, 2010 in Las Vegas, Nevada.  (Photo by Jerry Markland/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Jerry Markland/Getty Images

Jimmie Johnson's quiet, friendly demeanor and interest in mind games may backfire on him.

Consistent dominance of one driver breeds anxiety among the other competitive NASCAR Sprint Cup drivers. Johnson's style is becoming a real annoyance to some.

The big target on Johnson's back will begin to glow. It is inevitable certain drivers will do whatever it takes to end his dominance.

Jimmie stated after the Bristol race: "I think over the last few years, we've been able to get in some guys' heads and I think it's been helpful."

He added, "I get caught up in that mind game stuff and find a lot of satisfaction in it."

Kyle Busch stated: "I can only go as fast as my car will let me go."  He followed up saying in so many words that Johnson was not going to beat him because he was in his head.

Jimmie drives smooth and respects other drivers. In return, he gets respect and some drivers hesitate to race him really hard.

He has to remain nice and not alienate drivers by becoming arrogant. Being somewhat passive personality-wise is paramount to his game plan.

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Crew chiefs will step up their games to develop better working relationships with their drivers much like Chad Knaus has done.

Knaus may even be growing a bit antsy to conquer new challenges. He has proven his ability with Johnson and Hendrick Motorsports.

Is the unlimited piggy-bank at HMS enough to keep Knaus?

Jimmie Johnson may be playing mind games inadvertently with the wrong person: his crew chief.

In an attempt for the fifth consecutive championship, Johnson could finally shoot himself in the foot.

The scenario appears perfect with Jimmie winning three races so far this season; he leads the NASCAR Sprint Cup point standings.

Could it be the magic will suddenly vanish after his brazen start this year?

The "have at it" rule on track, with drivers able to be a bit more daring, could create havoc for Johnson at some point.

The added irritation of the mind games Johnson intends to play could lead to disrespect from his competitors.

Tony Stewart and Kyle Busch are two drivers not intimidated by Johnson trying to get in their heads.

Kurt Busch did allow the Johnson mystique to weigh on him. He wanted anyone but Jimmie to win.

The driver of the Lowe's No. 48 Chevrolet heads to Phoenix where he has four wins and eight top five finishes, with an average finish of 5.1.

The team is confident any problems with the spoiler will quickly be resolved.

Confidence has played a major role in the success of Johnson and Knaus. This very well may be the season that confidence is shaken.

Perhaps it will be at the hands of other drivers suddenly blocking his magical assault at the end of a race.

Perhaps the driver of the No. 48, so adept at handling the winged COT, could face handling difficulties with the spoiler.

Perhaps becoming a father will thrust turmoil into his plans.

Time is running out on Jimmie Johnson and his glory days as the NASCAR Sprint Cup champion.

His stealth driving manner and vanilla persona may create a backlash from his fellow drivers.

All good things come to an end. The self-assured, mild-mannered "superman" might be headed to the end of his record breaking reign.

Mr. Nice of NASCAR may impose self-inflicted damage with his quiet arrogance.

He will lose the fifth consecutive championship because the fact is, Jimmie really is on the mind of each driver who is attempting to secure a place in the Chase.

Game over Jimmie!

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