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Jimmie Johnson Wins 6th NASCAR Championship

jimmie-johnson-48

Jimmie Johnson won his sixth NASCAR championship, one short of the record held by legends Richard Petty and Dale Earnhardt.

ESPN (“Jimmie Johnson wins 6th Cup title“):

Back on top with only two NASCAR greats left to catch, Jimmie Johnson won his sixth championship in eight years Sunday and staked his claim as one of the most dominant competitors in sports history.

[...]

Now looming squarely in Johnson’s windshield is the mark of seven titles held by Richard Petty and the late Dale Earnhardt.

“I have six, and we’ll see if I can get seven,” said Johnson, who has been asked repeatedly of late where he thinks he stands in NASCAR history.

“Time will tell. I think we need to save the argument until I hang up the helmet, then it’s worth the argument. Let’s wait until I hang up the helmet until we really start thinking about this.”

[...]

Johnson won a record five straight titles from 2006 through 2010, was mathematically eliminated before the 2011 finale, but was back in the title hunt last season. Only he had a tire failure in the penultimate race at Phoenix and then a mechanical failure in the finale to lose the championship to Brad Keselowski.

[...]

Johnson planned to savor every moment of the celebration and his championship reign.

“This is extremely sweet. I feel like those five years were a blur. And things happen so fast,” Johnson said. “It’s not that I didn’t enjoy it or appreciate it or respect what happened. It just went by so fast it seems like. Now, I’m really going to slow things down here and enjoy it. This is so, so sweet.”

As a kid, I watched the races with my dad and rooted for Richard Petty in the #43 car.  I was a more casual fan during Darrell Waltrip’s run in the 1980s and have long since drifted away from the sport, keeping up with it the way I do Major League Baseball and the NBA: interested enough not to change the channel when they’re talking about it on sports talk shows but not enough to actually invest the time to watch on a regular basis. The constant changing of the formula for winning championships and the name of the championship hasn’t helped. And the fact that the sport has become so expensive that it has evolved into a bizarre hybrid of a team sport—with multiple cars under single ownership working to help one another even as they compete individually—strikes me as a bastardization of racing.

Still, Johnson’s accomplishment is quite remarkable. While one can lament that NASCAR has driven the “stock car” and “good ole boy” elements out over the years, they’re fielding a much more competitive product.  All the top drivers have essentially unlimited resources and the rules are such that everyone is driving essentially identical cars.  Johnson’s domination is a function of superior driving and race strategy, not a better car.

Petty won his last title at 42 and Earnhardt at 43.  Johnson’s only 38 and certainly much more fit than Petty and Earnhardt were in their day. He’s got a really good shot a breaking their record.

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About James Joyner
James Joyner is the publisher of Outside the Beltway, an associate professor of security studies at the Marine Corps Command and Staff College, and a nonresident senior fellow at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. He has a PhD in political science from The University of Alabama. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter.

Comments

  1. Argon says:

    Can’t resist

    I’m a much bigger fan of pumpkin chucking.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  2. DC Loser says:

    Are people still watching NASCAR?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  3. Argon says:

    @DC Loser: ” Are people still watching NASCAR?”

    Are there white people who still like to fly the Confederate flag?

    In any case, neither of these activities are terribly popular north of the Mason-Dixon line.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  4. C. Clavin says:

    Slow cars that only turn left…cheered on by red-necks wearing confederate flags.
    ZZZZ

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  5. C. Clavin says:

    @C. Clavin:
    Actually…now that I think about it…the perfect Republican sport.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  6. al-Ameda says:

    Actually, out here in the Bay Area, up in Sonoma County, NASCAR is very popular. The annual traffic jams on the roads to Sears Point (Infineon) Raceway (about 5-10 miles from Sonoma) for an annual NASCAR race are really bad.

    For me, as far as televised sports go, both NASCAR and golf are great for taking a nap.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  7. Gold Star for Robot Boy says:

    Not a Southerner, but I have attended two NASCAR events. I would recommend going for one reason: POWER. It’s an amazing sensory experience, between the incredible noise of the engines, the speed of the cars (much more impressive in person) and, if you’re close, the shuddering of the ground and air from the passage of a nearby vehicle.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  8. DC Loser says:

    The Sears Point track is one of the very few road courses that NASCAR has raced on. They also race at Watkins Glen. Watching those beheamouths with their lousy road manners and steering trying to negotiate the tight road course is like watching bumper cars going at 100 mph. That does take some skill for the driver, as opposed to the high speed ovals.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  9. Franklin says:

    I enjoy NASCAR on road courses if I stumble upon it on TV. And I know enough to know JJ is clearly the most talented of the bunch. But damn, couldn’t happen to a more boring guy.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  10. T says:

    @DC Loser: You should check out V8 supercars, the national Touring Car series of australia.

    they’ve got all road courses and modern silhouette cars with sequential transmissions and fuel injection, hell even Volvo is getting in on the action with Holden, Ford, AMG and Nismo

    your point about driving standards is true and it is difficult to maneuver a 3300lb blunderbuss through a chicane, that’s touring car racing, put a fender on em and see if you can give em a shove out of the way… go watch any BTCC (British Touring Car), or V8 supercars race and you’ll see the exact same thing happen there.

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  11. DC Loser says:

    Or something like these?:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ohkAxbeMxVo

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K05NgDMz2r4

    Too bad they haven’t loaded the taxi race from last year yet.

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  12. anjin-san says:

    @ Frankiln

    I live a few miles up the road from Sears Point, have been out for hot laps with one of the NASCAR road ringers – fun, but almost too exciting. I did not think we were going to make the first turn, but he did it like he was going to the store to get a gallon of milk.

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  13. anjin-san says:

    That does take some skill for the driver, as opposed to the high speed ovals.

    I’m not a fan of the ovals, but to say Sprint Cup racing on an oval take no skill is simply wrong. I had a marketing project for a few years that had me spending time around NASCAR. Going in, I did not have a clue about what it takes to perform at that level.

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  14. DC Loser says:

    Of course racing on high speed ovals takes a lot of skill, but I prefer the road course type of racing.

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