Fourth Sprint Cup title on tap Sunday
There is nothing else you can say about Jimmie Johnson other than he’s just masterful. Winning the race last week at Phoenix in such dominant fashion pales in comparison to the broad scope of what he’s doing right now, on the cusp of winning his fourth straight NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Championship.This has never been done before, it’s uncharted waters, and I for one have a tough time really grasping what a great feat this is. What in NASCAR history can you compare it to? There is nothing. We’re witnessing the greatest stretch of consistent dominance in the sports history. For all the great drivers battling for the Championship we’ve seen over the years, only Johnson has done it four times in a row. Only one, Cale Yarborough, had done it three times in a row prior to Johnson last year. Jeff Gordon never did it, Dale Earnhardt, Richard Petty, or Darrell Waltrip; nobody in the brief history! When thinking of where it ranks as one of the unachievable in sports history, it’s hard to come up with great individual accomplishments that match what Johnson is about to do this week in Miami for the final race of the 2009 season. Maybe a Tiger Woods in golf, or Tennis’ Roger Federer can come close, but can we really say that the level of competition is at it’s height in golf or tennis like it is in NASCAR. The multi-team operations have made it so there are so many more competitive cars as a whole in the series week to week than ever before. To be able to be at your peak for four straight years, better than everyone, and showing no signs of slowing is a testament to what has made Johnson so great. And to think he could have easily been going for six straight titles if it hadn’t have been for a few mishaps early in the Chase for the Championship in the years before he finally won. His performance last week under pressure at Phoenix is just another chapter in his book of excellence. After what happened to him the previous week at Texas, he could have just laid up like a golfer and got par with a top-10 finish, but he went all out like Tin-Cup and got the money shot leading nearly start to finish. This week at Miami, he’ll win the title and only second-place Mark Martin who is 108 points behind has a mathematical shot at catching him. It would be easy to suggest that Johnson will run conservatively in trying to finish 25th or better which will clinch the title, but somehow that doesn’t sound like Johnson’s style. Johnson has never won at Miami, one of the few tracks he hasn’t won at, but that may be more attributed to Miami being the final race of the year where he does lay up a bit to win clinch the title. He’s got the cars capable of winning and nothing would be better than to see a Championship clinch the title and win in the same race, but his race will be all about staying within the top-25.
Question? Comment? E-mail me at: Micah Roberts