NASCAR Power Rankings: Rating the Last 10 Championship Seasons

Brian Shannon@bshannon15Correspondent INovember 26, 2010

NASCAR Power Rankings: Rating the Last 10 Championship Seasons

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    HOMESTEAD, FL - NOVEMBER 21:  Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe's Chevrolet, celebrates after finishing in second place in the Ford 400 to clinch his fifth consecutive NASCAR Sprint Cup championship at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 21, 2010 in
    Chris Trotman/Getty Images

    There have been some great champions in NASCAR history, but there has been none greater than Jimmie Johnson.

    Johnson rallied at Homestead to pass Denny Hamlin and capture his fifth straight Sprint Cup title, surpassing his own NASCAR record of four straight championships.

    Johnson's streak has become the epitome of impressive, but who has had the most impressive single championship season over the past 10 years?

    Here is how the past 10 championship seasons in NASCAR rank.

10. Matt Kenseth 2003

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    FORT WORTH, TX - NOVEMBER 05: Matt Kenseth, driver of the #17 Crown Royal Black Ford, stands on the grid during qualifying for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series AAA Texas 500 at Texas Motor Speedway on November 5, 2010 in Fort Worth, Texas.  (Photo by Todd War
    Todd Warshaw/Getty Images

    Kenseth's lone championship came in 2003 as he won just one race and finished in the top five 11 times.

    Kenseth's one win was the lowest total of any champion over the past 10 seasons but his 25 top 10 finishes showed he was a model of consistency that year which ultimately resulted in a championship for Kenseth and his crew.

9. Kurt Busch 2004

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    HOMESTEAD, FL - NOVEMBER 19:  Kurt Busch, driver of the #2 Miller Lite Dodge, stands in the grid during qualifying for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Ford 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 19, 2010 in Homestead, Florida.  (Photo by Todd Warshaw/Ge
    Todd Warshaw/Getty Images

    Busch visited victory lane three times during his 2004 championship run, while recording 10 top five finishes.

    It wasn't a dominating effort for Busch but his 21 top 10's are still his career high and enough to win him the title.

8. Tony Stewart 2002

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    KANNAPOLIS, NC - OCTOBER 12:  Tony Stewart, Stewart-Haas Racing's driver/owner, announced Mobil 1 as his co-primary sponsor with Office Depot beginning in 2011 at Stewart-Haas Racing on October 12, 2010 in Kannapolis, North Carolina.  (Photo by Rusty Jarr
    Rusty Jarrett/Getty Images

    Stewart first championship came in 2002 as he visited victory lane three times and recorded 15 top five finishes.

    The No. 20 had 21 top 10 finishes after starting the season 43rd at Daytona.

    Stewart's first championship wasn't nearly as impressive as his second but he'll take it.

7. Jimmie Johnson 2010

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    HOMESTEAD, FL - NOVEMBER 21:  Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe's Chevrolet, celebrates after finishing in second place in the Ford 400 to clinch his fifth consecutive NASCAR Sprint Cup championship as his wife Chandra (L) and daughter Genevieve look
    John Harrelson/Getty Images

    Johnson's fifth straight championship was undoubtedly his toughest as he had to rally on the season's final day to surpass Denny Hamlin at Homestead and regain the trophy once again.

    Johnson had just one win during the Chase but after his disappointing 25th place finish in the first race of the Chase he finished in the top 10 in the remaining nine races.

    Johnson's fifth straight title was impressive because he had to stage a comeback and next season he will attempt to once again rewrite the record books as he tries for an unprecedented sixth straight championship.

6. Jimmie Johnson 2009

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    HOMESTEAD, FL - NOVEMBER 21:  Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe's Chevrolet, celebrates by hoisting the trophy after finishing in second place in the Ford 400 to clinch his fifth consecutive NASCAR Sprint Cup championship at Homestead-Miami Speedway
    Rusty Jarrett/Getty Images

    Johnson's record breaking fourth straight championship came in the 2009 season as the No. 48 visited victory lane seven times for the second season in a row.

    Johnson also finished in the top five on 16 different occasions and he recorded 24 top 10 finishes, tying his career best for a third time.

    The 35-year old's fourth championship was magical, but not his best.

5. Tony Stewart 2005

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    HOMESTEAD, FL - NOVEMBER 20:  Tony Stewart, driver of the #14 Old Spice/Office Depot Chevrolet, sits in his car during practice for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Ford 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 20, 2010 in Homestead, Florida.  (Photo by Ru
    Rusty Jarrett/Getty Images

    Stewart's second championship came in 2005 as he recorded five wins on the season and 17 top fives.

    Stewart also had an impressive 25 top 10 finishes, more than Johnson has had in any season.

    As the temperature heated up that summer so did Stewart, as all five of his wins came in a span of seven races from June to August.

4. Jimmie Johnson 2008

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    HOMESTEAD, FL - NOVEMBER 21:  Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe's Chevrolet, sprays champagne after winning his fifth consecutive NASCAR Sprint Cup championship following the Ford 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 21, 2010 in Homestead, Flo
    Jason Smith/Getty Images

    Johnson's third straight championship came in 2008 when he recorded seven wins, three of which came during the Chase.

    Johnson also finished in the top five 15 times and he had 22 top 10 finishes.

    It wasn't Johnson's best season but it was still impressive nonetheless.

3. Jeff Gordon 2001

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    HOMESTEAD, FL - NOVEMBER 19:  Jeff Gordon, driver of the #24 DuPont Chevrolet, stands in the grid during qualifying for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Ford 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 19, 2010 in Homestead, Florida.  (Photo by Jason Smith/Ge
    Jason Smith/Getty Images

    The four-time NASCAR champ last won the title in 2001, finishing with six wins and 18 top five's.

    Gordon won eight poles in 2001 and he had 24 top 10 finishes to rank as the third best championship performance over the past decade.

2.. Jimmie Johnson 2006

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    HOMESTEAD, FL - NOVEMBER 19:  Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe's Chevrolet, stands on the grid after qualifying for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Ford 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 19, 2010 in Homestead, Florida.  (Photo by Chris Grayth
    Chris Graythen/Getty Images

    Johnson's first championship run was his least impressive in terms of numbers as he won just five races, the fewest of any of his championship seasons, but he was able to win the Daytona 500 and for that reason the No. 48's first championship moves up the rankings.

    Johnson made a staggering $15.8 million for his 2006 campaign, more than double any other season in his career as he finished in the top five 13 times. Johnson also had 24 top 10 finishes.

    2006 wasn't Johnson's most dominant effort but it got his championship reign rolling and he took the checkered flag at the The Great American Race so it ranks as the second greatest performance over the past 10 seasons.

1. Jimmie Johnson 2007

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    HOMESTEAD, FL - NOVEMBER 21:  Jimmie Johnson (L), driver of the #48 Lowe's Chevrolet, poses with his wife Chandra after finishing in second place in the Ford 400 to clinch his fifth consecutive NASCAR Sprint Cup championship at Homestead-Miami Speedway on
    Rusty Jarrett/Getty Images

    Johnson was the definition of dominant in 2007 as he recorded 10 wins and 20 top five finishes.

    The No. 48 started the season slow with a 39th place finish at Daytona, but he went on to win three of next five races.

    Johnson finished the Chase by winning four of the final five races, with all four wins coming in a row. During the season's final 10 races Johnson finished outside the top 7 just twice, putting together the most impressive championship performance of the past 10 seasons.

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