Daytona 500 2013: Jimmie Johnson Solidifies Status as Generation's Greatest

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Daytona 500 2013: Jimmie Johnson Solidifies Status as Generation's Greatest
Chris Graythen/Getty Images

Through all of the hype and tragedy during this past week of NASCAR racing, we found ourselves hearing a familiar, and somehow calming, phrase when the dust had settled.

"The winner of the 2013 Daytona 500 is Jimmie Johnson in the No. 48 car."

Johnson's win continues what has been nearly a decade of dominance by one of the elite drivers in NASCAR history. For that reason, many of us responded to Johnson's win with a mere, "Here we go again."

The fair response, however, is to acknowledge Johnson's second Daytona 500 title as the solidifying moment of his status as this generation's greatest driver.

Johnson has pieced together as decorated a resume as any to ever grace the sport. With four NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championships and two Daytona 500 titles, that would be enough for any man to make the Hall of Fame.

Unfortunately for the competition, the No. 48 car continues to tear through history and etch his name into the record books.

Jerry Markland/Getty Images

One could argue that Johnson isn't the global star that Dale Earnhardt Jr. has become over the years. You could even debate whether or not he's the face of the sport with Brad Keselowski and Danica Patrick having taken on that role for NASCAR outsiders.

With that being said, there are no active drivers who can compare to what Johnson has done since 2006.

From 2006-2010, Johnson won every single Sprint Cup Series championship. That makes him one of two drivers in NASCAR history to win five career titles.

The other is Richard Petty.

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Johnson joins Petty as one of 10 drivers to win multiple Daytona 500 titles and is also a four-time Driver of the Year recipient.

His resume keeps improving, as he also won the AP Male Athlete of the Year award in 2009 and was named Forbes.com's Most Influential Athlete twice, including 2012.

It's all a result of his larger than life status as a driver and humble nature as a human being.

Whether Johnson has been labeled as a legend by traditionalists is unclear. Still that's exactly what he's become.

In a sport in which luck can often be as important as ability, Johnson has found a way to dominate the opposition. He's done so with poise, confidence and humility.

This latest feat makes Johnson more than just the best of our time—it makes him an all-time great.

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