Jimmie Johnson's Place in NASCAR History

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Jimmie Johnson's Place in NASCAR History
John Harrelson/Getty Images

Let’s face it: Jimmie Johnson will win this championship and become the first driver to ever win four championships in a row.

NASCAR Fans: deal with it. If he pulls this off, he will solidify his position as one of the greatest drivers ever. Remember, only three drivers have ever won more than three championships: Richard Petty, Dale Earnhardt, and Jeff Gordon, and Jimmie is about to win four in a row.

With the same team and the same crew chief…something that is also a new feat.

Twenty years from now, we’ll see Jimmie on Trackside on SPEED (hosted by Rutledge Wood, Michael Waltrip, Chase Elliot, and Chad Knaus) talking about his legacy from the good ol’ days as he is inducted into the Hall of Fame.

Lowe’s No. 48 die-casts will still be produced, probably in a box set from each of his championship years (and maybe a special edition that comes in a Cobalt Tools toolbox with a Jimmie figurine that repeats, “Pipe-fitting, Guys” when you ask it what it’s doing), Jimmie Johnson t-shirts will still be printed, and residents of El Cajon, California will still be talking about the local hero who did the impossible in NASCAR’s highest level.

Cale Yarborough won three consecutive championships back in the day—does anyone look back on him with thoughts of, “I can’t believe NASCAR allowed that to happen without tweaking the points system. He just ruined NASCAR!”?

I think not. He is a legend, which is why Johnson’s streak is so hard to swallow—because he’s breaking the record of a legend.

When Carl Edwards, Jr. wins his fifth championship in a row (hey it could happen—don’t jump on me for predicting the destiny of a yet-unnamed child who has barely been conceived), will people fondly remember the days of Jimmie Johnson’s dominance?

So, is this really what Jimmie’s place in history will be?

Take this into consideration: Mozart died a pauper, Picasso was considered a talentless hack, and Jesus freely admitted no prophet is accepted in his own home town. To those who knew Daniel Boone, he was just another guy.

Yet, argue that any one of those people are not great historical figures.

Johnson may not be popular right now, and may be the face of all that is wrong with NASCAR—no parity, the dominance of the superteams, etc—but history and future generations of NASCAR fans will look back and admire his feat, and those future fans who are not around yet will wish they had lived to see the great Jimmie Johnson race.

As Jimmie said on NASCAR Race Hub a few weeks ago, "I've spent the majority of my career not being successful, so I'm going to enjoy this as long as I can."

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