|Gordon: "that's unbelievable."|
“Every time he wins a race, I shake my head and go, `that’s unbelievable.’ Those guys are just so good. (If) you give Jimmie the sight of the victory, he takes it to a whole other level.
“I remember parts of my career when it was like that for me,” he said, “where we were that good as a team. That in sync and that confident that we had the competition beat before the race even started. They’re in that position right now.
“Everybody is sitting there watching them, (saying), `we got ‘em, we got ‘em.’ And then, all of a sudden, they’re gone and they win. That puts another notch in the belt of the No. 48 team, but it also takes a notch out of the rest of the competition. And that’s a great asset to have as a team.”
Gordon pointed out that Johnson’s NASCAR career was not a case of instant success.
“I think a lot can be said about what he did prior to getting into Cup (and) about how hard he had to work,” said Gordon. “The talent was there, but maybe the results weren’t always there. I think some people kind of overlooked him, when in reality, he had a tremendous amount of talent, work ethic, desire and passion. When you put that combination with Chad Knaus, Hendrick Motorsports and that team they have assembled… the rest is history.
|"This guy has the ability."|
“The numbers that he has put up I think speak for themselves.”
Gordon -- who recommended the then-unheralded Nationwide Series driver to team owner Rick Hendrick -- commented on what he saw in Johnson all those years ago.
“I think that my expectations were, ‘This guy has the ability. If you put a team together like we have done for the No. 24 team, I think he’s going to do some spectacular things.’ But even then, I don’t think any of us expected the thing to come together quite the way that it did."
Asked specifically about Johnson’s Hall Of Fame qualifications, Gordon said, “throughout the history of NASCAR, there have always been tremendous individuals and talents that played their role in history and were spectacular in their own way. Sometimes they came along -- maybe when somebody else was moving out -- or sometimes they were head-to-head.
“To me, I’ve always (felt) that you can’t dominate if somebody else is there, beating you every other weekend. Usually, dominance comes because you have an edge on the competition. We saw that with Richard Petty. We saw that with Dale Earnhardt, Sr. We saw that with me. And we see that now with Jimmie Johnson. I think that’s always going to hold true throughout history of this sport.”