Jeff Gordon and Jimmie Johnson are no strangers to being booed. Nearly every time their names are announced during drives introductions a crescendo of hisses and boos rises through the race track and overrides any fan trying to cheer over the ...
Jeff Gordon and Jimmie Johnson are no strangers to being booed. Nearly every time their names are announced during drives introductions a crescendo of hisses and boos rises through the race track and overrides any fan trying to cheer over the cacophony.
But, not this weekend.
"There were different colors that were cheering for me when I went by and typically all of those in a lot of red wouldn't like the blue car but the fans were with us," said Jimmie Johnson. "The fans that just seemed happy to see what took place and were hanging on the fence was cool and pretty special."
People in the NASCAR garage know that the constant travel 36 weekends a year creates a family atmosphere amongst co-workers. They are your peers, drinking buddies, boyfriends, girlfriends, confidants and foes. Usually the fans are not included in that elite tribe.
They are distant from the people working behind the scenes. But their sympathy was palpable this weekend, as they seemed to know instinctively that, at least this weekend, booing any member of the Hendrick Motorsports family was in poor taste.
For the critics, who proclaim that NASCAR fans are predominately a bunch of blue collar rednecks hell bent on a three-day beer bust, I beg to differ. NASCAR fans are the most loyal, most involved fans in all of sports that embrace the people involved in NASCAR as extended members of their family.
This weekend they proved that.
"I can't remember the last time I didn't hear boos," said Johnson.
As Jimmie Johnson brought home one of the most popular wins of the season in the NASCAR garage, the entire crowd at AMS stood and cheered. A sea of red Dale Earnhardt, Jr. diehards climbed the fence and celebrated with Team Hendrick, showing that occasionally team preference is overridden by a true love of the sport and all that compete in it.
It's not that they all of a sudden decided that they were going to toss their Dale Earnhardt beer stein collection on the trash heap; it's that they had enough compassion for their sport of choice to turn their jeers into cheers.
I am sure that once we get to Daytona next year the bloom will have fallen off the rose and I will once again hear the resounding boom of hisses as Jeff Gordon's name is announced over the PA system.
It was good medicine to hear nothing but applause this weekend.