If Jimmie Johnson Retired, Where Would He Rank Among All-Time Greats?

Michael GuadalupeFeatured ColumnistJanuary 11, 2013

FORT WORTH, TX - NOVEMBER 04:  Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe's Chevrolet, celebrates during the victory champagne toast in The Speedway Club after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series AAA Texas 500 at Texas Motor Speedway on November 4, 2012 in Fort Worth, Texas.  (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images

Jimmie Johnson is one of the best drivers in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series.

If he were to retire before the 2013 season started, though, where would Johnson rank among the all-time greats of the sport?

He has been the greatest driver so far this century, and after winning five consecutive titles, it's hard to imagine anyone repeating what Johnson has done in NASCAR.

Still, should he be considered one of the greatest drivers of all time?  Championships put him on the upper level of all-time greats, but is being a great NASCAR driver simply about championships?

The two greatest in the sport, Richard Petty and Dale Earnhardt, both have seven championships, but they were also adored and admired by the fans.  Johnson does have a solid fanbase, but it seems like for every fan who wants him to win, there is always one who wants to see him lose.

Regardless, Johnson is one of the best to enter NASCAR, and if he were to retire before the start of the 2013 season, he would rank among the best.


The Five-Time Champ

Only Petty and Earnhardt have won more championships than Johnson has. 

Their title reigns are impressive in their own right, but Johnson managed to win his five consecutively and during a time when the competition in NASCAR was tough.

Winning a championship itself is no small feat; winning five of them in a row is something that may never be repeated or passed.

It's Johnson's greatest achievement in the sport of NASCAR and arguably puts him only slightly below Petty and Earnhardt. 

Of course, there are other legends in the sport, like Darrell Waltrip and Bobby Allison, who didn't win as many titles as the King and the Intimidator but were still great drivers in their own right.

However, Johnson would rank above them on his driving ability alone if he retired.

Five back-to-back championships should not be overlooked, and helps signify Johnson as one of the best to enter the sport.


More Than Just Championships

It takes more than just championships to really make an impact in NASCAR.  It's also about what you do outside the sport.

And in Jimmie Johnson's case, he's made a big impact.  The Jimmie Johnson Foundation is Johnson's charity, which is involved with several programs, such as Make-A-Wish Foundation and Ronald McDonald House.

Johnson's impact on the sport goes above and beyond his five titles, and whether you’re a fan of him or not, he does great things outside NASCAR to help communities all around the U.S.

Several NASCAR drivers are involved in charity work, which is both great for the organizations they help and for NASCAR itself.

Johnson's charity work only adds to his legacy and would elevate him as one of the greatest ever if he were to retire.


The Best This Century

Jimmie Johnson has easily been the best driver since the turn of the century.  He has beaten the top drivers in NASCAR and has remained the driver everyone tries to beat.

He has taken Hendrick Motorsports to another level and has played a major role in making Hendrick a top team in NASCAR.

He seemingly has the ability to win on any type of track, from road courses to super speedways, something not every driver in the sport can do.

Johnson's won so many times that some fans have started to get sick of seeing him win.  Of course, having Hendrick power and a top team around him makes Johnson one of the best, but he reached the top level in NASCAR because of how much promise he had.

Yes, fans may dislike him because of how much he wins and his five back-to-back titles, or they may argue that his style of racing is boring, but Johnson continues to be a top competitor year after year.

He's still got a lot of time left in NASCAR, so when he eventually does retire, Johnson will have added to his extremely impressive racing career.

If he retired before the start of the 2013 season, though, Johnson would already rank among the greatest to ever enter the sport.


Michael Guadalupe is a Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter @The_Guada.