Drivers are more concerned about beating Jimmie Johnson than they are about making their own cars faster.
Johnson enjoys the games. â€œI get caught up in that mind game stuff and find a lot of satisfaction in it,â€ Jimmie Johnson said. â€œI told Chad before the year was over I want to win a lot to frustrate the competitors.
Kurt Busch is concerned
Just look at Kurt Buschâ€™s remarks after losing at Bristol despite dominating the race and leading 278 laps.
â€œI donâ€™t know, Iâ€™d rather lose to any of the 41 cars out there than the 48 car,â€ Busch said
â€œIt’s up to the best of us to knock him off the top,â€ Busch said after losing to Johnson in the closing laps of Sundayâ€™s Food City 500 at Bristol. â€œSo it’s rough. You know, they’ve won three times this year. Not that we need to, deserve to win, it’s just that they are winning every chance they’re given. We just need to position ourselves more to get those wins.â€
Matt Kenseth is worried about Johnson, too. During the spoiler test this week at Charlotte Motor Speedway Kenseth was asked about the upcoming race at Martinsville and Johnsonâ€™s winning record there. â€œHeâ€™s good everywhere,â€ said Kenseth.
What drivers can learn from Nancy Pelosi
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi knows how to play mind games all too well. She called President George Bush a â€œtotal failureâ€ when Bush criticized Congressâ€™s inaction on important legislation.
“God bless him, bless his heart, President of the United States — a total failure, losing all credibility with the American people,â€ said Pelosi.
When Barack Obama was pushing for passage of his Obama Care plan Pelosi urged her colleagues to vote for it. â€œBut we have to pass the bill so that you can find out what is in itâ€™â€ urged Pelosi.
There are a few NASCAR drivers who can stand to learn a thing or two about mind games from Pelosi.
Chad Knaus does the same thing to other crew chiefs. Heâ€™s been known to walk through the garage on the morning of the race with a rear spring over his shoulder headed to the race car â€“ but never intending to change a thing on the car.
He just wants to get the other crew chiefs talking â€“ to throw them off their game.
When the No. 48 team was invited to participate in a Goodyear tire test late last year many drivers including Greg Biffle were complaining that Johnson was gaining an unfair advantage. Hereâ€™s how Chad Knaus responded to that:
“But as far as sending a message, I hope it does. I hope people talk about it. Like I said earlier, I hope people are worried. I hope people are talking about the fact that we tire tested and it’s wrong. All these people can get wound up about stuff that really doesn’t matter,” said Knaus.
Dale Earnhardt was the master
I havenâ€™t seen anyone this good at psychological racing since Dale Earnhardt. He wasnâ€™t known as The Intimidator just for what happened on the race track.
Once at Talladega when all the other drivers were busy dialing their cars in during practice Dale shook things up with a very simple move. He parked his car in the garage, covered it up, and went fishing.
Dale Earnhardt won 10 Cup races at Talladega.
Earnhardt once struck fear into the hearts of his fellow drivers when he made his famous comment about drivers complaining about the high speeds at Daytona. Essentially, he told them if they were afraid to drive the car they should go home.
So who else in NASCAR is good at psyching out their competitors? What tactics have you seen played out by drivers? Iâ€™d be happy to hear about it in the comments, or feel free to contact me.