Many NASCAR fans spent years decrying how often Jimmie Johnson drove his No. 48 Chevrolet into Victory Lane.
As Johnson marched toward a record-tying seven season titles and 83 wins in stock-car racing’s premier series, his prowess was actually blamed for a falloff in NASCAR’s popularity.
After Kevin Harvick won his third consecutive Monster Energy Cup Series race last weekend in Phoenix, no one was surprised when they looked up the last driver to win four races in a row: It was Johnson, in 2007.
To paraphrase legendary Times columnist Jim Murray, rooting for Johnson was like rooting for U.S. Steel.
But now? Not so much.
The 42-year-old Johnson arrived in...