Jimmie Johnson Earns Place In History

Johnsons seven trophies

Jimmie Johnson knows it well. To finish first, you must first finish. You can make the argument he didn’t have the best car of the championship four at Homestead. Yet by practicing patience, the cool Californian won the race and his record-tying seventh NASCAR Sprint Cup championship. Running behind the other contenders much of the day, Johnson capitalized on a crash involving Carl Edwards and Joey Logano to snatch the brass ring. With the victory, he takes his place alongside Richard Petty and Dale Earnhardt, two of the sport’s greatest legends.

The word “earn” is not hyperbole. Critics will believe differently, but Jimmie Johnson is legit among the best of show. There will be no comparing him to “The King” and “The Intimidator.” These men belonged to different times. Johnson never raced the 48 on dirt tracks, and wasn’t running 48 races a season. He never raced in a golden age that included Bobby Allison, Bill Elliott, Rusty Wallace and Darrell Waltrip. All we can do is compare Johnson to the best of today.

You can hate the tracks where they race, you can hate the format under which a champion is determined. There’s no question this isn’t your Daddy’s NASCAR. Your Daddy’s NASCAR didn’t have today’s parity, where not just two or three drivers are capable of winning, as many as fifteen are in a position to win. Besides Hendrick Motorsports- for whom Jimmie Johnson runs- you have other championship caliber teams like Joe Gibbs Racing, Team Penske, Stewart-Haas Racing, and don’t count out Chip Ganassi, Richard Childress and Furniture Row. For the last decade plus, he’s fought off Jeff Gordon, Tony Stewart, Kevin Harvick, Kyle Busch, and a host of other worthy opponents.

Racing against top flight competition, Jimmie Johnson has won 80 races, good for seventh in the Cup series. With five wins, he’ll pass the likes of Allison, Waltrip and Cale Yarborough for fourth. Since he started racing in NSCS full-time in 2002, he won two races in his worst season. You want more consistency, Jimmie Johnson has never finished worse than eleventh. Think about this: in his 543 starts, he has 218 top fives. Johnson has also finished top ten in 60 percent of the races he’s entered.

Fans have their reasons for hating Jimmie Johnson. Crew chief Chad Knaus has been caught cheating. The fact that others have too doesn’t seem to enter into this argument. Johnson is a little too polished for a sport that favors rugged heroes. He’s lived something of a charmed life, with no real history of personal adversity. The bottom line is most people hate him because he wins so doggone much! Longtime fans know Petty, Earnhardt, and Gordon went through the same thing.

The court of public opinion may never judge fairly on the matter of Jimmie Johnson. With 80 wins and seven championships in a career that is not yet finished, it won’t matter. His name is in the history books. That can’t be taken from him.