Stats & Info: Jimmie Johnson

Dozier Mobley/Getty ImagesJeff Gordon won the inaugural Brickyard 400 in 1994, and has added three more since.
This Sunday, NASCAR will go racing at one of the most historic tracks in motorsports, Indianapolis Motor Speedway. And two of NASCAR’s most-accomplished drivers, Jimmie Johnson and Jeff Gordon, will have the chance to do something that only one other driver has ever done at the Brickyard, visit Victory Lane five times in a major race.

No driver has won the Indianapolis 500 more than four times -- A.J. Foyt, Rick Mears and Al Unser each have four wins in that race. But Johnson and Gordon will look to join Formula 1 legend Michael Schumacher, who won the U.S. Grand Prix five times when the race was held at Indy.

With four wins apiece, both Johnson and Gordon have more Brickyard 400 wins than any other team combined in the race. Those two are responsible for all eight of Hendrick Motorsports’ wins in this race, while no other team has more than three.

The teammates will be on the short list of favorites for the race. Gordon is a regular in the top 10, with 16 in 20 Brickyard 400 starts. Johnson has won this race in four of the past eight years, and finished second behind Ryan Newman last year.

Those two don’t just have elite results, but they’ve been among the most dominant drivers in terms of raw speed. Since 2008 at Indianapolis, Johnson has paced the field with 153 fastest laps run, while Gordon is third with 97. From there, it’s a drop, as the fourth-place driver has 49 fastest laps.

Who else should we be watching for Sunday afternoon?

Busch and Montoya make return visit
The driver between Johnson and Gordon in fastest laps run is Juan Pablo Montoya, who will attempt to make the field in a third Team Penske entry this week.

Both Montoya, who finished fifth in the Indianapolis 500 earlier this season, and Kurt Busch (who was sixth), will attempt to be the fifth and sixth drivers to run both the Indy 500 and the Brickyard 400 in the same season.

Both also have a chance to join Tony Stewart as the only drivers to finish in the top 10 in both races in the same year. Stewart finished ninth in the 1999 Indianapolis 500, and seventh in the same year’s Brickyard 400.

Wider range of winners?
For the first 16 runnings of the Brickyard 400, every winner came from the top 10 in points, with the lowest points position of a winner being 10th, when Jeff Gordon won in 1994 for his second of 89 career wins.

But in the past four seasons, three of the winners entered 18th or lower in points, with Ryan Newman winning last year after entering 19th in the standings.

That being said, 40 percent (eight of 20) of the time this race’s winner has gone on to win the championship that same season.

Loudon Clear

July, 12, 2014
Jul 12
Here are the projections for Sunday's Sprint Cup race at New Hampshire. Our projection system takes into account, among other factors, drivers’ past performances at the current track, pre-race on-track activity (practices and qualifying) and probability of finishing the race. All of the data is then adjusted for the track type (in this case, a 1.058-mile oval) and time of year.

Gaining on History
Hendrick teammates Jeff Gordon and Jimmie Johnson are each chasing milestones this weekend. Gordon is looking to join Hall of Famers Richard Petty and David Pearson as the only drivers to reach 90 wins, and Johnson is seeking his 70th Cup Series win – a mark only seven drivers in series history have reached.

The duo should be near the front on Sunday, as Gordon looked strong in practice this week (finishing third, third and second) and Johnson is a three-time winner at New Hampshire.

Johnson’s career average finish at Loudon trails only Denny Hamlin among drivers with at least five starts

Spread the Wealth
There have been 12 different winners in the last 12 New Hampshire races, a streak that dates back to 2008. That’s one shy of the Cup Series record for the longest streak without a repeat winner at a track, set at Texas Motor Speedway from 1998 to 2007.

King for a Day
Last week at Daytona, Aric Almirola avoided 16- and 26-car wrecks to become the first Cuban-American to win a Sprint Cup Series race. Almirola snapped a 545-race winless streak in the No. 43 car that Richard Petty made famous.

Bowyer projected to win at Sonoma

June, 21, 2014
Jun 21
Here are the projections for Sunday's Sprint Cup race at Sonoma. Our projection system takes into account, among other factors, drivers’ past performances at the current track, pre-race on-track activity (practices and qualifying) and probability of finishing the race. All of the data is then adjusted for the track type (in this case, a 1.99-mile road course) and time of year.

The first road course race of the year could be an opportunity for a non-familiar name to put themselves in the Chase. In seven of the past nine years, the Sonoma winner was a driver who had not yet won on the season. Our projected winner, Clint Bowyer, has not yet won this season. Bowyer qualified 25th but finished first and second in race trim during practices.

Jimmie Johnson won at Michigan for the first time last week, giving him 69 career victories. With his next win he would become the fourth-youngest to 70 wins, trailing only the top three drivers in wins in series history: Richard Petty, David Pearson and Jeff Gordon.

Speaking of Gordon, he’s finished second at Sonoma in two of the past three years and has eight straight top 10s at the track. Gordon is the series’ all-time leader with nine career road course wins, and his five wins at Sonoma is one shy of Bobby Allison’s record for the most at a single road course.

A driver to keep an eye on is Marcos Ambrose, a two-time road-course winner who’s still looking to break through at Sonoma. Ambrose is 23rd in points, but a win would make him a favorite to make the Chase. Since the start of 2009 Ambrose has been fastest driver on 172 laps in road course races, 106 laps more than anyone else.

Kurt Busch is driver to beat at Pocono

June, 7, 2014
Jun 7
Here are the projections for Sunday's Sprint Cup race at Pocono.

Our projection system takes into account, among other factors, drivers’ past performances at the current track, pre-race on-track activity (practices and qualifying) and probability of finishing the race.

All of the data is then adjusted for the track type (in this case, a 2.5-mile tri-oval) and time of year.

Can Busch avoid a wreck?
Kurt Busch appears to be the driver to beat on Sunday, that is, if he can keep the car in one piece. Busch has wrecked twice in the last eight races at Pocono (finishing 30th and 33rd), but has finishes of third, seventh, third, second, sixth, and ninth during that span when avoiding a collision.

His car was also dominant this week in pre-race workouts, never finishing worse than ninth in any session.

Johnson going for 3 straight
Jimmie Johnson picked up his second straight win last week at Dover after going winless for the first 11 races of the season. Johnson will now go for his third straight win, which would be his third such streak since 2000 - no other driver has done it even once in that time.

Pocono could be a good track for him to pick up another win, as he led more than half of all laps run there last year.

Pole position is key
Qualifying has been important at Pocono, as each of the last two June races at the track have been won from the pole, with the winner in 2011 starting second (Kurt Busch starts second on Sunday).

In the last 16 Pocono races, polesitters have six wins and 12 finishes in the top three.

Halfway to the Chase
We’re at the halfway point to the Chase, with 10 drivers having won (after 26 races, the top 16 drivers in wins, with points as a tiebreaker, make the Chase).

Of the 10 previous Chase champions, eight of them had a win at this point of the season (only Tony Stewart has been winless), and all were in the top 10 in points.

Johnson and Busch likely to lead at Dover

May, 31, 2014
May 31
Here are the projections for Sunday's Sprint Cup race at Dover. Our projection system takes into account, among other factors, drivers’ past performances at the current track, pre-race on-track activity (practices and qualifying) and probability of finishing the race. All of the data is then adjusted for the track type (in this case, a 1-mile oval) and time of year.

No. 48 is a front-runner at Dover
Jimmie Johnson broke into the win column last week at Charlotte, and he could be primed for another win at Dover. He’s won a Cup Series-record eight times at Dover after winning last fall’s Chase race, breaking a tie with Richard Petty and Bobby Allison. In the last 10 races at Dover, Johnson has led more than half of the laps run and more than 1,300 more than any other driver.

Busch seeks a Dover sweep
Kyle Busch has won the first two NASCAR events at Dover this weekend and will try to complete the sweep on Sunday. He is the only driver to win all three National Touring Series in the same weekend (Bristol in August 2010). Busch should have a very strong car, and had it not been for mediocre showings in the last two practices (22nd and 15th) he would have overtaken Johnson in the projections. It’s splitting hairs between these two cars, as both should be out front most of the day.

Gordon atop points leaderboard
Jeff Gordon continues to lead the traditional points after a seventh-place finish at Charlotte - the sixth straight race he’s led in points. Since winning his last championship in 2001, this is tied for the second-longest span he’s topped the points leaderboard, behind only a 21-race streak in 2007.

Variety of winners
For the first time in the Chase era we’ve had 10 different winners in the 12 races. After 26 races (Dover is the halfway point before the Chase), the top 16 drivers in wins will make up the Chase field. Among the drivers who have yet to win is Matt Kenseth, who led the series with seven wins last season and currently sits second in points.

Biffle streak alive
Although he’s sitting outside the top 10 in points, Greg Biffle could have a record-breaking weekend at Dover by just finishing the race. Biffle has been running at the finish of 84 consecutive races, tying the Cup Series record for most consecutive starts without a DNF, set by Herman Beam from 1961-63.

AP Photo/Autostock/Nigel KinradeJimmie Johnson picked up his record eighth Dover victory last fall.
It was just a matter of time before Jimmie Johnson won in 2014. He had won in all 12 of his previous full Sprint Cup Series seasons, ranked second in laps led on the season and had led more than 20 laps in five of the first 11 races of the season.

The win was Johnson’s seventh career victory at Charlotte, breaking a tie with Hall of Famers Darrell Waltrip and Bobby Allison for the most all-time at a track that dates back to 1960. In fact, Johnson needed fewer starts to reach seven wins than either Waltrip or Allison needed for their sixth.

Now that Johnson has won once, expect the floodgates to be opened. Because, frightening as it might seem, even though Johnson is the all-time wins leader at Charlotte, he’s even better at the site of this week’s race - Dover.

Johnson is an eight-time winner at the Monster Mile, picking up the eighth victory in last fall’s race there, and subsequently breaking a tie with Allison and Richard Petty for the most career wins there.

Johnson hasn’t just been victorious at Dover, he’s been dominant there. In nine of the last 10 races there, he’s led over 140 laps, including leading 386 of the 800 laps run there last year.

Overall, in the last 10 races at Dover, Johnson’s led 2,067 laps, or more than 1,300 more than any other driver. And for his career, he's led 2,704 laps at Dover, less than 100 away from passing Allison for the track record.

Johnson has been the fastest driver on 797 laps over the last five seasons at Dover, 3.4 times as many as any other driver. His average running position in those 10 races is third. Only one other driver, Kyle Busch, even averages a spot in the top 10.

Johnson’s average driver rating, a NASCAR stat that shows a driver’s total performance based on a litany of statistics, since the start of the 2009 at Dover is a 135.6. In that time, that’s the best mark by any driver at any track.

A win on Sunday could also make Johnson the only active driver with at least nine wins on a track. In fact, in NASCAR Cup Series history, only six drivers have won at least nine times on a single track: Petty, Dale Earnhardt, Waltrip, David Pearson, Cale Yarborough and Rusty Wallace.

Harvick projected to win at Charlotte

May, 24, 2014
May 24
Here are the projections for Sunday's Sprint Cup race at Charlotte. Our projection system takes into account, among other factors, drivers’ past performances at the current track, pre-race on-track activity (practices and qualifying) and probability of finishing the race. All of the data is then adjusted for the track type (in this case, a 1.5-mile Quad-Oval) and time of year.

• Projected winner Kevin Harvick has won two of the last three Coca-Cola 600s. Harvick’s projection is influenced heavily by his past history in this race as his car appears to be top-five capable, but not quite elite - he qualified sixth and finished sixth in the final practice.

• Kurt Busch will attempt to become the fourth driver to start both the Indianapolis 500 and the 600-mile race at Charlotte in the same day. John Andretti, Robby Gordon and Tony Stewart have done it before, but only Tony Stewart in 2001 completed all 1,100 miles. It’s important for Busch to make it to Charlotte in time for the start of the race because only the driver who starts a Sprint Cup race receives points for the race.

• Jimmie Johnson is still looking for his first win of the season, and on the surface, Charlotte looks like a good site for that to happen. He’s tied with Bobby Allison and Darrell Waltrip for the most career wins there with six. However, Johnson has just one win in the last 16 Charlotte races, after winning five of the previous six.

• Jeff Gordon leads the points, but it was his win two weeks ago at Kansas that all but locked in his Chase berth. But don’t expect an encore this week, as drivers this season have a 21.6 average finish in the next race following a win, with more DNF’s (three) than top-10 finishes (two).

• In the last points race at Kansas, Danica Patrick finished a career-best seventh, the best Cup finish by a woman since Janet Guthrie finished sixth at Bristol in 1977. However, Patrick has averaged a 32nd-place finish in the races following her previous three best finishes. After her 8th-place finish in the 2013 Daytona 500, her only other career top 10, she was 39th the following week at Phoenix after being in a wreck.

Harvick projected to repeat in Richmond

April, 25, 2014
Apr 25

Robert Laberge/Getty ImagesKevin Harvick looks to win back-to-back Richmond races.

Here are the projections for Saturday's Sprint Cup race at Richmond. Our projection system takes into account, among other factors, drivers’ past performances at the current track, prerace on-track activity (practices and qualifying) and probability of finishing the race. All of the data is then adjusted for the track type (in this case, a ¾-mile D-Oval short track) and time of year.

Kevin Harvick, defending race winner and wins leader this season, is projected to win again Saturday. Harvick has posted a stellar average driver rating of 102 over the last three races at this track while finishing 11th or better each time.

Kyle Busch has won four of the last five NSCS spring races at Richmond. With a win Saturday, he’d join Jeff Gordon and Richard Petty as the only drivers to win at least 30 Cup Series races before turning 30. Despite an excellent track record, Busch finished 19th and 20th in the two practices this week, which slightly reduced his value in the projections (to eighth).

Denny Hamlin is winless this season, but Richmond could be a good place for the Virginia native to pick up his first win. Since the start of the 2008 season, Hamlin has led 1,323 laps at the track, more than twice as many as any other driver.

Jimmie Johnson also remains winless eight races into the season. In each of his six championship seasons, Johnson won within the first eight races of the season. Although he’s a three-time winner at Richmond, his 17.3 career average finish at the track is his worst at any active track. Our method projects Johnson to struggle to crack the top 10, as he finished 40th and 12th here last season.

Expect another different winner at Texas

April, 5, 2014
Apr 5
Here are the projections for Sunday's Sprint Cup race at Texas. Our projection system takes into account, among other factors, drivers’ past performances at the current track, prerace on-track activity (practices and qualifying) and probability of finishing the race. All of the data is then adjusted for the track type (in this case, a 1.5-mile quad-oval) and time of year.

Expect another different winner
There have been six different winners in each of the Sprint Cup Series races this season -- the first time that’s happened in the Chase era. Only four times in Cup Series history has a season started with seven different winners in a row, most recently in 2003 (nine straight). Our projections this week anticipate that trend continuing, with Greg Biffle picking up his first win of the year.

Expect No. 48 to finish well
Jimmie Johnson, the projected winner in each of the past two races, led more than half the laps in each race but came away winless both times. He had a flat tire while leading inside the final 10 laps at California and was passed for the lead with 11 laps to go at Martinsville but should be good again this week, as he’s won two of the past three races at Texas.

Busch eye smaller gap between wins
Last week at Martinsville, Kurt Busch passed Jimmie Johnson late to pick up his first win since October 2011, snapping an 83-race winless streak. Between his past two NSCS wins, Busch drove for four different teams, starting with Team Penske and finishing up at Stewart-Haas Racing.

Can Junior stay hot?
In six races this season, Dale Earnhardt Jr. already has four top-3 finishes, including a third-place finish last week at Martinsville. In his first five years with Hendrick Motorsports (2008-12), he never had more than five top-3 finishes in a season. Last year he had seven but was held winless.

Make it a weekend
The spring Texas race has been held on Saturday nights in recent years, but instead of competing with the Final Four in Arlington, the track is offering fans a combination ticket package, including tickets to the race, along with Saturday and Monday’s NCAA men’s semifinal and championship games.

Johnson projected to win at Martinsville

March, 29, 2014
Mar 29

ESPN Stats & InformationSixteen drivers were involved in collisions in this race last year, third-most at any non-plate track.

Here are the projections for Sunday's Sprint Cup race at Martinsville. Our projection system takes into account, among other factors, drivers’ past performances at the current track, pre-race on-track activity (practices and qualifying) and probability of finishing the race. All of the data is then adjusted for the track type (in this case, a .526-mile oval short track) and time of year.

• Last week’s race at California was marred by widespread tire issues - 16 in all - believed to be caused by teams running low air pressures on the bumpy two-mile oval.

Projected race winner Jimmie Johnson was leading with less than 10 laps to go when his left front tire blew out, relegating him to a 19th-place finish.

Tires shouldn’t be the issue on Sunday though, as Martinsville’s cramped quarters have something different in store. Sixteen drivers were involved in collisions in this race last season, with Kurt Busch (DNF) and Dale Earnhardt Jr each wrecking twice.

• Watch out for the Hendrick stable on Sunday: Johnson, Jeff Gordon, Earnhardt Jr. and Kasey Kahne all drive for Hendrick Motorsports, which has won a record 21 NSCS races at Martinsville (the most by any active team at any track).

Hendrick has also won the last three Martinsville races, 1 off the record for consecutive Martinsville wins, last done by Holman-Moody from 1963-65.

• Gordon won last October’s race at Martinsville and Jimmie Johnson won the two before that, giving each eight career wins at the track, tied for the third most all time. Since 2003, they each have 17 top-fives 22 races at the track with an average finish better than fifth.

Johnson projected to win at California

March, 22, 2014
Mar 22

ESPN Stats & InfoSome of the best drivers could be in trouble Sunday if they’re in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Here are the projections for Sunday's Sprint Cup race at California. Our projection system takes into account, among other factors, drivers’ past performances at the current track, prerace on-track activity (practices and qualifying) and probability of finishing the race. All of the data is then adjusted for the track type (in this case, a 2-mile D-shaped oval superspeedway) and time of year.

• The Lap 1 leader has never won a Cup race at California in 24 tries. It’s the only lap of the race the eventual winner has never led. In 2008, Jimmie Johnson won from the pole, but AJ Allmendinger led the first lap.

This trend might continue through Sunday, as polesitters Matt Kenseth (inside) and Brad Keselowski (outside) are projected to finish fourth and 16th, respectively.

• Two of the past three California races have ended with a last-lap pass for the win.

This favors Jimmie Johnson, who owns the fastest average speed late in runs (170.1 mph) and Bristol winner Carl Edwards, who has gained the most positions in the final 10 percent of California Cup races (three per race, 45 total) since 2005.

• Johnson (our projected winner) is the all-time wins leader at California with five -- nobody else has more than three. He’s also the all-time leader in top-five finishes, laps led and average finish.

Johnson finished no worse than seventh in any practice, recorded the second-fastest overall qualifying lap and rolls off third.

• Dale Earnhardt Jr. struggled last week at Bristol but remains second in points, with a seventh-place average finish through four races.

Junior has never won at California but finished in the top three in this race each of the past two years.

• Kyle Busch captured Joe Gibbs Racing’s first NSCS California win last year -- his second win at the track.

Busch has led 67 percent of the total laps (356 of 529) in the past three California races, with a second-place average finish during that span.

Look for Johnson, Earnhardt in top 5

March, 8, 2014
Mar 8

Dale Earnhardt Jr. has spent 95 percent of his laps in the top 15 of the field this season.
For the first time, we’re publishing the results of our NASCAR race projection system.

This system takes into account drivers’ past performance at the current track, pre-race on-track activity and probability of finishing the race, among other factors.

The projections for Sunday's NSCS Race at Las Vegas are in the chart on the right.

Jimmie Johnson looking to return to victory lane
Signs point to Jimmie Johnson as the driver to beat this week, as he leads all Cup drivers at Las Vegas in average finish (ninth), average running position (10th) and share of laps led (17 percent) since 2005.

Johnson has also posted the fastest average green flag speed (170.622 mph) and speed in traffic (169.603 mph) at the track over that span.

His worst position in this race last year was only 11th -- Sunday’s polesitter Joey Logano, who now holds the track qualifying record, never got higher than 11th in that race.

Can Dale Earnhardt Jr. keep it going?
Dale Earnhardt Jr. comes to Las Vegas on one of the hottest starts to a season in Sprint Cup history.

Through the first two races he’s run 95 percent of his laps in the top 15 -- destroying the Cup average of 37 percent.

However, he also had back-to-back top-fives to begin last season before finishing seventh at Vegas.

His consistent improvement throughout testing and practices this week (19th-19th-12th-ninth) leans toward the #88 potentially landing in the top five.

Austin Dillon poised for strong showing
Rookie of the Year candidate Austin Dillon is projected to collect his second career top 10 in 16 NSCS starts.

Dillon’s only Sprint Cup experience at Vegas was last year’s 21st-place finish, but solid on-track activity this week has bumped him up in the projections.

Dillon finished second, sixth, 16th and second and rolls off fourth after a strong effort in the new knockout-round qualifying format.

How does Johnson's championship rate?

November, 19, 2013
Jared C. Tilton/Getty ImagesJimmie Johnson won the 2013 Sprint Cup title.
Jimmie 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.

• 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

Jimmie Johnson dominates like few others

November, 15, 2013

Getty ImagesJimmie Johnson (left) is in a class with other champs like Roger Federer and Michael Jordan.

The odds of Jimmie Johnson winning a sixth Sprint Cup Series championship are pretty good entering Sunday’s season finale (1 p.m. ET, ESPN and WatchESPN). Another title would put him in select company -- only Dale Earnhardt and Richard Petty have won six titles (each has seven), and neither won six titles in an eight-year span, as Johnson is primed to do.

Johnson would be in select company from a NASCAR perspective, as he'd reach a sixth title in three fewer full seasons (seasons in which the driver started at least half the races run) than both Earnhardt and Petty. He'd also be the same age (38) as Petty at the time of his sixth title, and four years younger than Earnhardt.

Who is the most dominant individual athlete over the last 15 years?


Discuss (Total votes: 427)

But Johnson is also moving into the discussion of the most dominant athletes in recent memory. Let's weigh his accomplishments against some other notable superstars.

•  Johnson -- would be first driver to win six Cup titles in an eight-season span; 66 Sprint Cup wins since 2002 are 30 more than any other driver in that span.

•  Roger Federer -- won 16 Grand Slam titles from 2003-10 (16 of 27 Grand Slam titles in that span).

•  Michael Phelps -- won 18 gold medals over three Olympics, including eight golds in eight events in Beijing in 2008.

•  Tiger Woods -- won seven majors from 1999-2002, including four straight in 2000 and '01.

• Michael Schumacher -- won five straight Formula 1 championships from 2000-04; won 56 percent of races in span.

Even though Johnson is the lone driver for the No. 48 Hendrick Motorsports team, it’s been a team effort to put the Lowe’s Chevrolet continuously in Victory Lane, from crew chief Chad Knaus to car chief Ron Malec to the entire pit crew and staff in the shop.

In the history of the four major pro sports (MLB, NFL, NBA, NHL), Division I college football and basketball (men’s and women’s), the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, IndyCar and Formula 1, only a select number of teams have done what the No. 48 team is looking to do Sunday: win a sixth championship in an eight-year span.

Here are the other organizations to pull off six titles in eight years.

•  New York Yankees -- the only organization to pull off the feat twice; won six of eight World Series titles from 1936-43, and six of seven from 1947-53.

•  Montreal Canadiens -- hoisted the Stanley Cup six times in eight seasons from 1953-60.

•  Boston Celtics -- won eight consecutive NBA championships (1959-66).

•  UCLA Men’s Basketball -- under John Wooden, won seven consecutive NCAA championships from 1967-73.

•  Chicago Bulls: led by Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen, won six of eight NBA titles from 1991-98.

Although Matt Kenseth and Kevin Harvick have a shot at the title, the championship remains Jimmie Johnson's to lose.

Numbers don't favor Johnson or Kenseth

November, 8, 2013

Josh Harrelson/Getty ImagesMatt Kenseth (left) and Jimmie Johnson (right) both are looking to defy recent history.

The Sprint Cup schedule has just two stops left this season, and heads to Phoenix Sunday (ESPN, 3 p.m. ET) with two drivers firmly in the mix for the championship, Jimmie Johnson and Matt Kenseth.

Mixed Fortunes at Phoenix
Last season, Johnson was in the same position he’s in this year, coming off a Texas win and holding a seven-point lead in the standings entering Phoenix.

He’s certainly hoping to avoid the same fate he suffered last year, when he blew a tire at Phoenix and struck the wall, finishing 32nd. Johnson never recovered, and Brad Keselowski went on to claim the championship.

Johnson is the all-time leader in wins, top-5 finishes, laps led and average finish (minimum 10 starts) at Phoenix, but his numbers aren’t nearly as solid there as in his four starts since the track was reconfigured following the 2011 spring event.

Since then, he has a 13th-place average finish, including finishes of 14th and 32nd in the two Chase races. By contrast, he had a streak of 10 straight top 5s at Phoenix prior to the reconfiguration.

What’s more, in each of the last three seasons, the driver leading with two races to go didn’t end up winning the championship, including Johnson himself last year.

Odds Against Kenseth
The remaining schedule does not set up kindly for Kenseth, who sits seven points behind Johnson for the points lead. The final two tracks on the schedule are among the bottom five of tracks for him in terms of average finish.

Although he’s won at Phoenix before, he hasn’t had a top-5 finish there in the last 11 Phoenix races, and has finished behind Johnson in 13 of the last 14 Phoenix events.

Danger Zone
Both drivers will need to be cautious in turn four this weekend. Since 2004, there has been at least one accident in turn four every year.

That includes last season, when one of the most infamous accidents in NASCAR history occurred: Jeff Gordon wrecking Clint Bowyer in turn four, ending Bowyer’s chances to win the championship.