Improbably, Jimmie Johnson has done it again.
For the second straight year, Forbes has named the five-time NASCAR champion as the "most influential athlete" in sports. Not just racing, but ALL OF SPORTS.
Johnson beat the likes of Tim Tebow (No. 2) and Peyton Manning (No. 3), which seems fairly shocking to me. A NASCAR driver is more influential than mega-hyped NFL quarterbacks?
Forbes cited polling numbers that said Johnson held influence over 25 percent of those surveyed – tops among all athletes.
Think about that for a moment: Pretty much everyone in the country has heard of Tebow and Manning; you can't tell me the same number of people have heard of Johnson.
Nothing against Johnson, but he's a NASCAR driver. Even though he's won five titles, that still doesn't put him on the radar as the same number of people who have heard of Tebow and Manning.
But yet more people claim to be influenced by Johnson than the two quarterbacks? It just seems odd to me.
Here's some more puzzling information: Jeff Gordon was on the list last year – when he was coming off a winless season – but isn't on it this year, after he won three races in 2011. How did his influence decline?
And another strange finding: Dale Earnhardt Jr. slipped from No. 3 last year – when he was coming off a 21st-place season – to No. 7 this year, when he was coming off a Chase season.
How about NASCAR champ Tony Stewart? Not on the list.
Commercial-friendly Carl Edwards? Not on the list.
New full-time NASCAR driver Danica Patrick? Not on the list.
In addition, 40 percent of those surveyed said they either "like" Johnson or "like him a lot." What was Earnhardt Jr.'s likability number? The answer is 41 percent.
So you're telling me America likes Johnson and Earnhardt Jr. just about the same? Sorry to Johnson fans, but that seems questionable.
Anyway, it's good for NASCAR that the country believes at least two of its drivers still rank among the most influential athletes in all of sports. But to those inside the NASCAR industry, the findings might raise some eyebrows.
You can see the full top 10 here: Forbes' 10 Most Influential Athletes In America