Clinton, South Carolina, Monday, March 12, 2018, 9:45 a.m.
People are fond of talking and writing about media bias. The greatest bias of the media is against having to write the same things over and over.
Thus am I pondering this rainy morning Kevin Harvick’s third straight Monster Energy Cup victory, this one at ISM Raceway in Avondale, Arizona. Valley of the Sun. Tanned faces. Chapped lips.
Harvick flashed a small bit of snideness when he curtly remarked about “haters,” a social-media term for people with whom one disagrees heatedly. For the most part, though, the current implement of domination delivered a series of heartwarming remarks about how wonderful life indeed is in his environs.
Four races into the season, Harvick seems to think the playoffs have already started.
“This weekend felt like a playoff moment for us because our team, when you get into those playoff moments, you have all the guys, everybody looking at the race car, that determination of every last detail, there’s a lot going on in life in general, and it’s hard to do that every week. Our team is very good at setting those things aside for 10 weeks during the playoffs.”
Harvick said those words in the winner’s media conference. The grammar was so rambling and indecipherable, I couldn’t find a place to insert a suitable identification. It read as if Harvick realized he was trying to support a point that couldn’t be supported, so he just rambled until his thoughts ground to a halt.
“It felt more important to win this week than it did to win a race at Homestead for a championship,” Harvick added furthermore. “It felt like that. Everybody felt it. You didn’t really have to say anything.”
“Those are the moments that you just love to live in and be a part of and succeed in,” added Harvick and amazingly not Tim Tebow. “You can’t even explain them unless you’re a part of them because they’re just so rewarding.
“Any time you can reach out and grab motivation, for me, that’s just a piece of the puzzle that I like to be a part of and feel that controversy and that enthusiasm.” This sure sounded like Kurt Busch.
The biggest mystery in the sport — the dominance of Kevin Harvick — remains inexplicable in the words of its subject. Combined and simplified, what Harvick said added up to the old Sterling Marlin standby: “Car run good. Boys worked hard.”
If Harvick’s continuing virtuosity is mysterious, then Jimmie Johnson’s troubles are positively hieroglyphic.
I wish Jeff Burton was available at this point in the season to stare into a camera and say, “I can assure that Jimmie Johnson didn’t just forget how to drive.”
Johnson fooled me last year. I kept saying that Johnson and Chad Knaus were just playing ‘possum all summer, experimenting and preparing for the playoffs while everyone else was just preparing for the next race. I watched the movie so many times, I didn’t even know there was a sequel.
Lots of variables get in the way of any notion that Johnson has reached the point in his career where his success stalls and he starts a decline. A new model. Maybe the rest of the teams have finally caught up with the Wizard of Knaus. Maybe the old tricks don’t work anymore.
Johnson’s strong at Fontana. If he goes out there and spends the day trying to figure out a way into the top 10, the talk will pick up.
The seven-time champion answers questions. He doesn’t volunteer much. An eighth championship remains out there on the horizon, a Holy Grail that seems ever more elusive, perhaps even illusory.
Nature has taught me not to count Johnson out.
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