JOHNSON IS MALE ATHLETE OF THE YEAR

Jimmie Johnson - whom I recently thought of a good nickname for - on Monday became the first driver to win the Associated Press's Male Athlete of the Year award. OK, let's take the new nickname for a spin. Vanilla Nice (see how I combined his vanilla-ness and his nice-ness there?) received 42 votes from editors at U.S. newspapers that are members of the AP. In their 78-year history of giving out the award, AP voters never thought to give Richard Petty, Dale Earnhardt Sr. or Jeff Gordon the award ...

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FOUR-TIMERS’ CLUB: JOHNSON VS. GORDON

With four straight NASCAR Sprint Cup Series titles, the Jimmie Johnson era is upon us. While that feat is unprecedented, Johnson is not the only current driver who is a four-time champ. Johnson’s car owner, teammate and friend Jeff Gordon also has four titles and next year, no doubt, the Gordon and Johnson Drive for Five will be upon us. All of which begs the question – at least, in my head – whose four titles are the most impressive, Gordon’s or Johnson’s? Gordo ...

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AWARD SPEECH JIMMIE JOHNSON SHOULD GIVE

 Friday night at the annual NASCAR awards banquet, Jimmie Johnson will deliver a really boring speech. He'll thank his team, his family, his myriad sponsors, Rick Hendrick and Jeff Gordon. Ten seconds after it's over, people will forget that he gave a speech in the first place and the legend of the Vanilla Racer will live on. Want to punch up your image, Jimmie? Here's the speech you should give:[Standing ovation as he takes the stage to receive the championship trophy]Wow. What can I say? ...

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JIMMIE ON JAY (NOT LITERALLY)

 Jimmie, if your goal is to kick your public persona out of the vanilla zone into something a little more Chunky Monkey, "The Jay Leno Show" is not the way to go. (Was that bastion of televised Ambien Larry King not available?) Go on Letterman. Do Stern. Get Between Two Ferns with Zach Galifianakis. You gave it your best with Jay, but you didn't have much to work with. The guy is still telling Monica Lewinsky jokes. Probably. You need to get out of your comfort zone. It might mean ...

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TOP STORY NO. 14: DOUBLE-FILE RESTARTS

Every time I have an excuse to include a scene from “Swingers,” I try and do it. My editor usually removes these clips. But when you talk about doubling down and have an excuse to see Vince Vaughn when he weighed 37 pounds, we’re all big winners.  Oh yeah, I forgot to mention double-file restarts, which got me thinking about doubling down, which you should always do on 11. WHAT HAPPENED?Back in June, NASCAR implemented double-file restarts for cars on the lead lap. ...

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JOHNSON MOST DOMINANT EVER? MAYBE NOT

Jimmie Johnson has won four straight Sprint Cup titles, something no other driver has done. That makes him the most dominant driver of all time during any four-year span, right? The answer is no, according to the Wall Street Journal. (Brief aside: I love the Journal. Great newspaper. But when it weighs in on NASCAR, awkward things like this tend to happen. So I take this piece with a grain of salt.)According to writer David Biderman, Johnson is not the most dominant champion in history. He added ...

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THE FIVE RACES THAT WON JOHNSON’S TITLE

Jimmie Johnson had an exceptional year on his way to a record-setting fourth consecutive Sprint Cup championship. Here are the five key races that led to the 48 team’s title.1. Bristol, March 22. The spring race at Thunder Valley ended with Johnson scoring his first top-five of the year. Following two top-10s in the first four races, Bristol moved Johnson from 13th to ninth in the standings. Or more importantly, it moved him into the top 12. He never dropped below the Chase cutoff the rest ...

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JIMMIE JOHNSON WINS RECORD FOURTH STRAIGHT SPRINT CUP TITLE

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, who ...

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JIMMIE JOHNSON WON’T WIN THE CHASE

 Jimmie Johnson won't win the Chase. There. I typed it. When I read (thanks to Jay W. Pennell) that Mark Martin has gained 109 points on Jimmie Johnson nine times in his career I thought, "There has to be a way for Martin to do that on Sunday at Homestead." For everyone rooting for Martin, here is a list of those ways:  Tires The relatively new surface at Homestead cut or blistered several tires in last year’s race. Jimmie Johnson the driver might not screw ...

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JIMMIE JOHNSON GOES EVEN MORE VANILLA

This is what it has come to for Jimmie Johnson: open begging. The soon-to-be four-time Sprint Cup champion wants corporate America to know that he likes ice cream and tequila. Because like most famous athletes, he prefers the food and drink of recently-scorned women everywhere.  Why aren't advertisers beating down Jimmie Johnson's door? (ESPN) ...

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