Tuesday, November 19, 2013
How does Johnson's championship rate?
By Matt Willis
Jared C. Tilton/Getty ImagesJimmie Johnson wrapped up his sixth career Sprint Cup Series championship with a ninth-place finish Sunday at Homestead. We already knew that. The talk then quickly turned to where this championship rates, a three-part question.
Jimmie Johnson won the 2013 Sprint Cup title.
• Where does this championship rank among Johnson’s six titles?
• How does Johnson stack up against Dale Earnhardt and Richard Petty?
• What’s Johnson and the No. 48 team’s place among the all-time great organizations?
Let’s take them one at a time.
Where does 2013 rank among Johnson’s seasons?
A lot depends on what statistics you put importance on. His career high in wins (10) came in 2007. His career high in laps led (2,238) came in 2009. His career high in average finish (9.7) came in 2006.
Johnson tied a career high with 24 top-10 finishes this season, and parts of 2013 surpassed the seasons when he set career highs.
He had more wins (6) than he did in 2006. He had more laps led (1,985) than he did in 2007. He had a better average finish (10.7) than he did in 2009.
A takeaway from Johnson’s 2013 season is how he didn’t just dominate the Chase (his 5.1 average finish was just off the record of 4.9) but also owned the “regular season.” In the 26 races before the Chase, Johnson had a point lead of more than 40 points after 10 races. That hadn't been done in the first two seasons under the current points format.
How does Johnson stack up against Petty and Earnhardt?
Johnson’s sixth championship came in his 12th full season; Petty and Earnhardt won theirs in their 15th full season (full season meaning they started at least half of the races).
Earnhardt’s seventh title came in his 16th season, Petty's in his 19th, meaning Johnson has plenty of time left to match and surpass the record.
Johnson is renowned for his physical fitness, competing in triathlons and going on a 20-mile run during the 2013 Chase. So, there’s reason to believe Johnson could be competitive well into his 40s like his former teammate Mark Martin (who won five races after turning 50).
What is the 48 team’s place among all sports teams?
On Friday, we compared Johnson to other individual athletes who have had runs of dominance in the past 15 years and put the No. 48 team’s performance in context among all major sports teams, but it’s noteworthy to revisit now that the title has been clinched.
Among the four major pro sports (MLB, NFL, NBA, NHL), Division I college football/basketball (men’s and women’s), the Sprint Cup Series, IndyCar Series and Formula One, there have only been five other organizations to have a run of six titles in an eight-season span.
• New York Yankees: won six of eight (1936-43), and six of seven (1947-53) World Series titles
• Montreal Canadiens: won six Stanley Cups in eight seasons (1953-60)
• Boston Celtics: won eight straight NBA titles (1959-66)
• UCLA men’s basketball: won seven straight championships (1967-73)
• Chicago Bulls: won six of eight NBA titles 1991-98
• Hendrick Motorsports No. 48: won six of eight Sprint Cup titles 2006-13