Jimmie Johnson won a record fourth straight Sprint Cup title at Homestead-Miami Speedway on Sunday to continue one of the most impressive - and underappreciated - dynasties in all of sports. Johnson and crew chief Chad Knaus, and their Hendrick Motorsports crew, are the most consistently dominant team in Sprint Cup history. No driver has ever accomplished a fourpeat. Only Jeff Gordon (four), Dale Earnhardt (seven) and Richard Petty (seven) have won as many or more championships than Johnson, whose name now must be mentioned along with the all-time greats.
Rick Hendrick was not present at the race. In a typically classy move, the owner was in North Carolina on Sunday to support his niece, who was in critical condition awaiting an emergency liver transplant. Hendrick's team made history by capturing the top three places in the standings. Mark Martin finished second and Jeff Gordon held Kurt Busch off for third. Martin never seriously challenged for the title on Sunday. The race was won by Denny Hamlin, who promised after the race that his first title was coming soon.
Johnson ran hard - as promised - and finished fifth at the Ford 400. "It was hair-raising at times," Johnson said. Brian Vickers and Martin congratulated Johnson on live television, and in a later interview Martin called Johnson "Superman" again. NASCAR chairman Brian France presented the championship trophy and told Johnson, "Welcome to history."
Johnson claims fourth straight Cup title (AP)