TOP STORY NO. 1: JIMMIE IS THE NEW KING

Jimmie Johnson is the first person in the history of ever to win four straight NASCAR titles. From the “No @#$%, Sherlock” Department, he is our No. 1 story of 2009.


What happened?

The champ did what champs do. Seven wins. Sixteen finishes in the Top 5. Twenty-four finishes in the Top 10. Johnson improved as the season went on. His team had 1,594 points in the first third of the season, 1,750 in the middle and 1,812 in the final stretch. Johnson was also best when it mattered most. After getting clipped at Texas and finishing 38th, Johnson came back and owned Phoenix, making the final race at Homestead a glorified victory lap.

Where are we now?

Hendrick Motorsports is trying to keep the gang together. Johnson has already signed an extension through 2015. There’s also ongoing discussions about keeping crew chief Chad Knaus on through 2015, though the extension hasn’t been signed. Meantime, everyone else is trying to figure out if there’s a chink in the armor. Here’s a breakdown of the four title years.
 
Year    Total Points    Wins    Top 5 Finishes    Top 10 Finishes       
2009    6657              7         16                       24       
2008    6684              7         15                       22       
2007    6723              10       20                       24       
2006    6475              5         13                       24    
 
Johnson simply doesn’t have bad points races that put him in position to lose leads. Plus, his best tracks host Chase races. Every year, a Carl Edwards, Mark Martin, Denny Hamlin or Jeff Gordon seem to make a run. But until a team shows the consistency of Johnson’s, there’s no reason to believe he won’t be the favorite to win again.

Why should you care?

As a great writer on this site mentioned before, most sporting dynasties correlate with increased ratings. Not so for the champ or Hendrick as an aggregate. This befuddles me. Maybe gentlemen who don’t get into trouble like Jimmie Johnson, Pete Sampras or Drew Brees aren’t cool enough for this digital age. But Peyton Manning, Derek Jeter and Roger Federer seem to get plenty of global dap.  

Perhaps the issue is NASCAR marketing. While they could return racing to its roots, promote renegades and adapt to the wants of fans, it’s hard for even the NASCAR Mafia to determine who wins the overall series title. Jimmie Johnson is the first person to win four series titles in a row. Instead of the sport looking back to find greatness, maybe they need to focus straight ahead. The new king is here, and there’s no sign he’s leaving the throne any time soon. 

Related links:
Top story No. 2: Jeremy Mayfield’s methy situation
Top story No. 3: Rick Hendrick is the Godfather
Top story No 4: The economy stinks
Top story No. 5: NASCAR ratings down
Top story No.6: Talladega turns into the Bermuda Triangle
Top story No. 7: Dale Earnhardt Jr. gets clobbered
Top story No. 8: Tony Stewart has a Whopper of a season
Top story No. 9: RCR gets loopy
Top story No. 10: The return of Mark Martin
Top story No. 11: Kyle Busch sucks, rocks
Top story No. 12: NASCAR Hall of Fame
Top story No. 13: David Poole’s death
Top story No. 14: Double-file restarts
Top story No. 15: As the Danica turns