History has been made, even if some don’t totally agree with the thought of it.
NASCAR Sprint Cup driver Jimmie Johnson won his seventh championship tonight, tying Richard Petty and Dale Earnhardt, Sr. on the all-time list. It is quite a monumental achievement, since not many would have thought the number would be caught after Dale Earnhardt won his seventh in 1994, 22 years ago. Jeff Gordon won four very quickly and there was a great possibility that he could have won more had the Chase not been implemented and Jimmie Johnson hadn’t suddenly started tearing up the racing scene, but Johnson and co. have set a new standard that cannot be easily replicated now.
The historic run was completed in only 15 years and eight of those were run for the championships; Jimmie won all of his championships since winning his first in 2006, five in a row at one time. He now has 80 wins after winning at Homestead-Miami for the first time, just 13 from tying his mentor Jeff Gordon. The run has been quite efficient and if you do the math, that is at least 5 wins per year.
I’ve been watching NASCAR racing for 13 years now and have seen drivers come and go: old timers like Mark Martin, Rusty Wallace, and Bill Elliott and newcomers like Joey Logano and Kyle Larson. Of the 13 championship seasons that have come and gone, seven of those ended in a Jimmie Johnson victory, so yes, I have gotten to know this driver pretty well. In 2006, I managed to get his autograph at the airport as he and his wife were driving away in their SUV, he scribbling his short-hand signature on a piece of paper I had with me, looking like he was in a hurry to get out of there after having just raced at Michigan. That was the summer before he won his first championship and shortly after he won his third Coca-Cola 600 in a row. I still have that autograph, being stored in a yearbook of mine until I decide what to do with it once the X-time champ has finally retired.
There is nowhere to go but up now, to go for eight and possibly more. As long as Jimmie Johnson stays competitive, there is no end in sight for one of the greatest drivers of all-time. Sure, he won all of his titles in the Chase for the Championship era, an era that die-hard fans say isn’t real racing and is quite watered down, but hey, Jimmie won it fair and square and really is the only driver who has mastered the format in all of its versions over the years. After he won six, I like to say NASCAR tried to Jimmie-proof the Chase, making it harder to win the championship, but after getting a feel for it and failing at first, the team overcame the setbacks and claimed what was rightfully theirs: Lucky Number Seven.
The legendary Hendrick team of Johnson and Knaus have enjoyed scorching their competition and don’t look to be letting up just yet.
#NaNoPoblano2016 Day 20