Three days after the conclusion of the race, Johnson’s decision to go for the victory instead of protecting his points and insuring he would advance to Round 2 of the playoffs is still being debated.
Earnhardt believes it is a driver’s job to win races.
“Jimmie’s a seven-time champion,” Earnhardt said. “He’s a bit of a superhero to his fans and superheroes go for the win.”
Petty was surprised that Johnson would risk losing the opportunity to earn his eighth championship.
“I think Jimmie and those guys lost the battle and lost the war,” Petty said. “They lost everything in one fell swoop.”
Logano saw both sides, but leaned toward Earnhardt’s opinion.
“If you’re Jimmie and it’s been a little bit since he’s won and he’s used to winning – he’s won seven championships and I don’t know how many races. … it being that long since you’ve been to Victory Lane and you see it right in front of you, how do you not go for it?” Logano answered.
For the record, Johnson has 83 victories to his credit – tying him with Cale Yarborough for sixth on the all-time wins list. His seven championships puts him in a three-way tie for the most with Dale Earnhardt Sr. and Richard Petty.
Ultimately, Petty gave the perspective that most drivers would echo.
Recalling a dinner that included himself, Earnhardt Sr. and legendary journalist Chris Economaki after an Xfinity race in Richmond (known then as the Busch series), Petty relayed a conversation. Economaki questioned a decision made by Earnhardt to which the driver replied “until you set in that car at 140 degrees and have to make a split second decision, don’t criticize what I do in a race car.”
Watching the debate, country music recording artist Tim Dugger weighed in on Johnson’s side, tweeting “I don’t blame JJ going for the win… He hadn’t won in a while and was that close… go for it nothing to lose when you are 7time!”
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