By Michael Matter,
Sports Business Writer
With confetti, beer, and a trophy in hand Jimmie Johnson celebrated his sixth Sprint Cup championship. This is the sixth time that the NASCAR driver has won the chase and all within eight years, that is proof enough of his dominance. Johnson has arguably been the best driver in the sport for some time now but are we ready to call him the King of NASCAR?
Not yet, but we may very well do so in the near future as the driver sits only behind legends Richard Petty and Dale Earnhardt for the most Sprint Cup Series titles. Petty and Earnhardt each have seven, but this new driver, Johnson, is the youngest to get to six championships in NASCAR history. For the time, being people will just stick to calling him ‘6Pack,’ the hash tag he has used on Twitter for the past two years on his journey to seeking title number six.
Jimmie Johnson was able to claim his title following a ninth place finish at Homestead-Miami Speedway, beating runner up Matt Kenseth by 19 points. Despite a career year and consistent performance on the track Kenseth saw Johnson win the ultimate prize. Although Kenseth had done all he could do in order to win the race, including leading 144 laps, he ended up finishing second to teammate Denny Hamlin.
Following a strong performance in Sunday’s race Denny Hamlin was able to claim the number one spot in the race at Homestead and breathe a sigh of relief. The end to a tumultuous season had finally arrived when he drove past the finish line asking,“Is the year over yet?” No one can blame him after being a championship hopeful and considered a real contender for many wins this season.
Hamlin suffered a compression fracture located in his back at the Auto Club Speedway earlier in the year and was forced out of four races due to the injury which ultimately ended his bid for the Chase and any hope at winning the Sprint Cup.
Despite winning on Sunday Hamlin does not feel like the season was any less difficult but he is hopeful for the future. According to ESPN, he has also become much more grateful for wins and championships stating that, “what I really love about this win is that you appreciate it so much more because you went through the bad times.” Hamlin was able to celebrate for a while but the winners circle was quickly cleared for the six time Sprint Cup champ.
The Johnson dynasty began in 2006 as the NASCAR world watched him take home five straight Sprint Cup championships including an especially memorable one that saw him defeat teammate Jeff Gordon in 2007. It was the four-time champion and future legend who had convinced Hendrick Motorsports to take a chance with Jimmie Johnson and hire him.
While it is certain that Johnson and his crew will prepare to seek out title number seven they are still relishing in the victory of title number six. Johnson is just happy to be on the same platform as NBA legend and friend Michael Jordan who has six title rings. Jordan was probably expecting that text anytime now.
Johnson has undoubtedly placed himself amongst some of the greatest to dominate in their sport and will most likely continue to do so. He worked really hard, it paid off and now he can enjoy a six pack of beer with his sixth championship. It is only right.
A version of this article appeared in the Tuesday, Nov. 26 print edition.
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