Gordon vs Johnson could make for another Hollywood Script

Dale Wilkerson                              April 2010

In the movie Days of Thunder, Cole Trickle became upset with teammate Russ Wheeler because he felt that Wheeler was harassing him on track. It looks as if the modern day version of Days of Thunder is being played out between Jeff Gordon and Jimmy Johnson.

In the movie, both Trickle and Wheeler drove for a Charlotte based car dealer Tim Deland. In real life, Gordon and Johnson drive for Charlotte based car dealer Rick Hendrick.

Wheeler became Trickle’s teammate after driving for him while he recovered from injuries. Shortly after becoming Trickle’s teammate, Wheeler began to push Trickle around on track. When the team owner was asked about it, he called it good, hard racing.

Jeff Gordon was the Top Gun in NASCAR before he suggested to Rick Hendrick to put Jimmy Johnson in a car. Johnson has been on an unprecedented tear in NASCAR. He has won the past four season’s championships, he has race wins at nearly every track on the circuit, and he currently leads the standings this season.

Gordon was called Wonder Boy during his rise to dominance in the mid-nineties. Johnson has also been compared to a super hero, Superman.

A good rivalry could be good for tickets sales. As much as the broadcasters have tried to get a big rivalry going between drivers, each attempt has fizzled out. This one could latch hold because some folks want to see Johnson get out run, even if that means Jeff Gordon has to be the man doing it.

On the other hand, for folks that look at Hendrick Motorsports like fans did the ‘Fully Jeweled’ Chrysler’s of Karl Kiekhaefer back in the 1950’s, this rivalry will do little to sell tickets.

Race fans get tired of seeing the same team dominate each week. That is why local tracks place bounties on drivers, to encourage the other drivers to try harder to outrun the dominate team. Rick Hendrick would benefit more from Mark Martin and Dale Earnhardt Jr. feuded with their teammates Gordon and Johnson.

Both Martin and Junior have quietly worked their way into the top 12 in points this season. If these two guys could have wins in the month of May, ticket sales could be jumping, especially if the Gordon vs Johnson thing explodes under the Richmond lights Saturday night.

 Sparks could fly between Jeff Gordon and Jimmie Johnson in the coming weeks.      Photo Credit Woth Canoy/Autostock

Picture this, Johnson and Gordon hammering on each other as the laps count down. Dale Jr. catches them, makes a move to go for the lead but contact from his teammates takes all three cars out. Then on the green/white/checkered Mark Martin gets by, oh I don’t know how about, Kyle Busch to take the win. If the simmering feud between Gordon and Johnson reaches the boiling point, and the contact on track scalds Dale Junior’s chances at winning a race, the phones at Darlington, Dover and Charlotte will ring off the hook with folks wanting to see how Junior responds.

As this rivalry between Jeff Gordon and Jimmy Johnson grows, it will be Risky Business for these two to battle this hard. For Rick Hendrick, he knows it could be considered Mission Impossible, to settle these two down.  NASCAR hopes that fans will travel from Far and Away to see which driver has All the Right Moves and to see which driver ends up Losin’ It. Track owners, food vendors, and NASCAR personal will be hoping that the Rain Man stays away to improve their chances of seeing The Color of Money and agents like Jerry Maguire will be hoping for a Cocktail when the dust settles.

I just hope Mel Brooks decides to make a racing movie after all of this plays out or we could have a new weekday soap opera called perhaps, ‘As the laps count down.’