On Sunday at Homestead, Jimmie Johnson became Captain Kirk again, boldly going where no man has gone before.
He’s passed Cale Yarborough for consecutive titles, passed Hall of Famers Ned Jarrett and Junior Johnson on the win list and is one win away from catching another in Lee Petty.
He’s passed his teammate Jeff Gordon for titles, and now he’s the only driver at the top of the heap looking up at Richard Petty and Dale Earnhardt.
To the delight of some and the dismay of more, Jimmie Johnson has one for the thumb, a fifth straight Sprint Cup championship.
Observers of the sport say Johnson fatigue may be setting in, and fans may be tuning out because of the dominance of the No. 48 team. Sure it disgusts some. That’ll happen if you win too much.
“People tell me they hate me but they respect me,” Johnson revealed Sunday night.
“In the moment I think it’s tough for fans to maybe look at what we’ve accomplished because they want their guy to win.”
No matter what your position is on Double J, he’s history alive and racing in NASCAR.
The 48 team is the Yankees, the Celtics and the Canadiens in firesuits.
They’re the guys your grandfather bores you to tears with as he brags about their dominance with a story that begins with “back in the day.”
Today, this year and this time, is the day.
Johnson is the dynasty you’ll bore the kids to death with.
Jimmie Johnson will never be confused with the most charismatic guy. He’ll never be accused of being the most controversial guy, but when the rubber hits the road, he’s unmatched.
Even Johnson will acknowledge that the dynasty of the 48 team will be seen through history’s larger prism.
“I know what we’ve done today is respected sports-wide. Not just our little bubble that we live in, but sports-wide.”
Five titles in five years, and they keep figuring out how to do it. They cruise to them, they come from behind and take them, and they squirm and find a way to escape when the boot is on their collective neck.
Just like everyone you heard about from “back in the day,” they just keep winning.
Someday, they’ll stop winning titles. Johnson and the 48 team can’t keep this up forever. Father Time and emerging talent or the efforts of another team will undo them.
Astronaut Gordon Cooper used to ask people “Who was the best pilot you ever saw?”
He would then smile and say “You’re looking at him.”
Today, before this time becomes back in the day, Jimmie Johnson is the best driver anybody ever saw.
Because you’re looking at him.