Jimmie Johnson has been the face of the sport for the last decade.
Jimmie Johnson has been the dominant driver in NASCAR's top series for the past decade. More often than not, it seems that Johnson and his No. 48 team can do no wrong.
No matter what the competition tries, there is no beating them.
There is no denying that Johnson has solidified himself as one of the top drivers in the history of the sport. Some of the things that he has achieved already in his career are almost unimaginable.
Following is a closer look at five of the things that Johnson has done in his career that are truly impressive.
Johnson is the only driver in history with five consecutive championships.
This may be the most obvious answer, but it is also the most impressive.
From 2006 through 2010 Jimmie Johnson was the only champion of the Sprint Cup Series.
His run of five consecutive championships was a feat that had never been accomplished before and may never be accomplished again. When you can say that you did something in NASCAR that not even the great Richard Petty had done, you know you have done something impressive.
Critics may point to the fact that if not for the Chase, Johnson would only be a two-time champion since only his 2006 and 2009 titles would have been won under the previous points structure.
While that may be true, you still cannot take away what Johnson has done. The Chase is the format used for determining a champion, and Johnson and his team have mastered it better than anyone else.
Johnson won twice in last year's Chase including in Texas.
When the Chase playoffs start, you can pencil Jimmie Johnson in for at least a couple of wins each year. Since the Chase began in 2004 there have been 90 Chase races run. Johnson has won 22 of them.
His next-closest competitor on that list is Tony Stewart, who only has half of Johnson’s win total. And only four other drivers have won at least five Chase races.
Breaking it down even further, Johnson has also posted 15 second-place finishes during that span, giving him a top-two finish in 37 out of 90 races in the Chase.
Overall, Johnson has won 34 races at the 10 tracks that comprise the Chase. When you are that good that often, it is nearly impossible to be beaten.
Johnson is a mainstay in the Chase field.
Even when Jimmie Johnson isn't winning the Chase, he is contending for it on a yearly basis. Since the Chase was instituted as NASCAR’s playoff system prior to the 2004 season, Johnson has been a participant every season.
He is the only driver to have never missed a Chase. Not only does he make the Chase every year, he seemingly does it with ease as well. Not once in the Chase era has Johnson been outside the top 10 in points after the fifth race of the season.
Johnson and his team have been the model of consistency for the past decade, only finishing worse than third in the final standings twice over the past 10 seasons.
Johnson finishes in the top-10 more often than not.
Jimmie Johnson has run a full 36-race schedule 11 times in his career. He has posted at least 20 top-10 finishes in every one of them—a claim that no other driver can make.
His career couldn't have started out any better. In his rookie season of 2002, Johnson posted 21 top-10 finishes, which is incredible for a rookie. On a side note, it is amazing to look at how great his career has been, and realize that it was Ryan Newman, not Johnson, who won NASCAR Rookie of the Year that season.
Johnson's career high in top-10 finishes for a season is 24, which he has done on four different occasions and is on pace to do yet again this season. Of his 260 career top-10’s, just over two-thirds of them (174) have resulted in top-five finishes.
Johnson and Chad Knaus have been together for 12 years.
Perhaps the most overlooked fact of Jimmie Johnson’s dominance, and maybe one of the primary reasons for it, is that he has faced very little change in his Sprint Cup career.
Johnson has driven cars for the same owner, Rick Hendrick, for the duration of his career. With the exception of the three races he ran in late 2001 prior to his official rookie season of 2002, Chad Knaus has been Johnson’s crew chief for his entire career.
Johnson did have Darian Grubb and Ron Malec as his crew chiefs in 2006 and 2007, respectively, for a combined seven races while Knaus was on NASCAR suspension.
On top of that, Johnson has had sponsorship from Lowe’s in every race he has run at the Sprint Cup level.
In a sport that sees constant crew chief and sponsor turnovers, it is practically unheard of to have so little change over such a long period of time. As long as the trio of Johnson, Knaus and Lowe’s continue to dominate, don’t expect anything to change anytime soon.