Sunday afternoon Jimmie Johnson locked up his fourth consecutive Sprint Cup Series championship. On route to the title this year, he scored seven victories, three poles, 15 top 5's, and 23 top 10's. In his four championship seasons (06, 07, 08, and 09) he has accumulated 29 victories, 64 top 5's, and 94 top 10's.
Allow me to do the numbers for you: in 144 starts in those four years, he won 20.1% of the races, finished in the top five in 44.4% of the races, and finished in the top 10 in 65.3% of the races. That my friends is what you call domination.
The man has accomplished something that no other driver in the 61 year history of the sport has done and he's done it without boasting about his ability, but rather giving credit to his Hendrick Motorsports team. He's done it by consistently finishing races and finishing well (only seven DNF's in that four year streak.) And he's led laps and gained bonus points as a result (over 6,300 laps led in that time.)
Folks, what don't you get about this guy? He might be the best ever. He was hand picked by Jeff Gordon. He was mentored by Rick Hendrick and Jeff Gordon. He grew up racing motorcycles on dirt before switching to off-road racing and finally to stock cars. He has car control down to a science. He has strategy and knowledge of the sport down. His crew chief is the most detail guy I've ever seen on a pit box and was a protege of Ray Evernham (who I might add was one of the greatest crew chiefs of all time.) There is a reason why the #48 Lowe's team has been at the head table at the banquet for the last four years.
Jimmie Johnson has not ruined NASCAR. He has not ruined the chase. He has realized how to win the chase and that's what is most important. He's realized how to make this racecar do what he wants it to do and he's figured it out faster than a lot of other guys. And when I talked about the COT and his figuring it out I'd also like to point out that he won two championships with the old car as well.
Jimmie Johnson and Chad Knaus have done something that nobody else has been able to do. Petty couldn't do it, Pearson couldn't do it, Yarborough almost did it and failed, and Earnhardt and Gordon all came close but failed.
To the people who are upset at this point or stopped watching the Chase after the Talladega race I am very sorry that you didn't get to witness history. When you look at all the sports dynasties out there, Jimmie Johnson ranks among the greats.
In the late 90's Jeff Gordon and his Rainbow Warriors had a banner in their shops. On that banner was a checklist of goals. It went from Upstart to Contender; From Contender to Winner; From Winner to Champion: and from Champion to Dynasty. Jimmie Johnson is a dynasty. He's a first ballot Hall of Famer in my opinion. His legacy will live on for the ages. And if you think for one minute that he shouldn't be called "Great" then look at what he's done and look at what others have tried to do.
He may go for five. He may go for six. He may surpass Earnhardt and Petty and win eight in a row. The thing is until someone steps up to prove him otherwise, Jimmie Johnson is currently the best driver in the sport. And for anyone to downplay what he's accomplished in the last four years or to say he couldn't stack up with the Yarboroughs, Pettys, and Pearsons is just plain wrong.
Congratulations Jimmie, Chad, and Mr. H. I'm waiting to see what you can do in 2010.