FORT WORTH, Tex. — When Kevin Harvick repeated his assertion at Texas Motor Speedway that Jimmie Johnson shouldn't win his fifth consecutive NASCAR Sprint Cup trophy — "for the good of the sport" — another four-time champion came to Johnson's aid.
Jeff Gordon, who also happens to be Johnson's teammate at Hendrick Motorsports, said that anyone, including Harvick, who doesn't appreciate how impressive winning five in row would be, just isn't paying attention.
And with just three races left, starting with Sunday's Texas AAA 500, Gordon thinks that Johnson's drive for five is indeed good for the sport as it brings even more media attention, especially this year with only 38 points separating first (Johnson) from third (Harvick).
Gordon also said that fans are getting front-row seats to history with Johnson's unprecedented run.
"Ten years from now, or even 20 years from now, you'll look back on this time and go ÔWow!' " Gordon said. "You will just look at how impressive it is and how impactful it's been to the sport and how chances of it ever happening again are near impossible."
For those who need reminding, Harvick said that fans and other drivers alike are getting "tired" of seeing Johnson and the No. 48 HMS Chevrolet win.
"Well, I think people get tired of seeing the same guy winning; and I think in the end, it would just bring new attention to the sport because it wouldn't be the same old thing as Johnson won again," he said.
Gordon said he remembers when he started winning his championships back in the mid-1990s, he also faced similar criticisms when he was beating fan favourites like Dale Earnhardt and Rusty Wallace.
"I think that, and I tell Jimmie this all the time, this in a way kind of happened to me, and what he's going through is far more impressive than anything I ever did," he said.
Gordon said that Harvick and others are looking for scapegoats for a dip in NASCAR's television ratings and falling live attendance and figure that Johnson's winning streak is at least a contributor to the malaise.
"I think that people are looking at the ratings, at attendance, and trying to figure it out," Gordon said. "They're trying to figure out what we have to do to re-engage the mass of fans that we've drawn for so long.
"We've got incredible fans and avid fans, but it's obvious that those numbers are down. And we have more measuring tools and more media outlets and all those things now so we have ways of measuring it.
"I personally don't think it has anything to do with Jimmie winning four or five or six or however many (championships) he wins because I think each one that he wins makes it that much more challenging for the other ones to pull it off and to take that away from him and I think it should engage fans in even more ways to be anxious to see somebody do that. And, plus he's building his fan base up while doing it because of how impressive it is."
After hearing Gordon's defence of his winning habits, Johnson said that he appreciated the backing but understood the frustrations of both Harvick and Denny Hamlin Ñ who sits just 14 points back of Johnson going into Sunday's race.
"He (Harvick) and his fan base and (Hamlin) and their fan base Ñ they want to see their guys win and they want to see a change at the top," Johnson said. "But it's not like we backed into a championship and just kind of stumbled upon four in a row. We've won a lot of Chase races. Right now I'm really proud of how we won these races and taken a lot of pride in winning 19 of 64 Chase races right now."
Harvick, right now, can only dream of such success.