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Johnson's historic run isn't over

Jimmie Johnson may have secured a fourth NASCAR Sprint Cup title in a row, but there is still more to come
At long last, Jimmie Johnson allowed himself to savour the magnitude of his accomplishments — but don't let that fool you.

After finishing fifth in Sunday's Ford 400 and wrapping up his fourth straight NASCAR Sprint Cup championship, Johnson revelled in the history he had just achieved. None of the legends of the sport — not Richard Petty, not Cale Yarborough, not David Pearson, not Dale Earnhardt — had ever won four consecutive series titles.

Aside from the well-deserved — and fleeting — enjoyment of the moment, however, there's nothing to indicate Johnson, 34, has reached a point where complacency will dull his desire. During a break from a photo shoot that had Johnson posing with his four Cup trophies, nearly four hours after the race, Johnson told Sporting News that winning four straight won't diminish his drive for a fifth title.

“I definitely have all those intentions to be as committed,” Johnson said. “There'll be someday when things change and it's not as … I guess when I think about retiring and all that. But for me, it's not that it's any work to do it, because my goal wasn't to win a race and get out or win a championship and get out.

“I'm a racer. That's what I do at all times — I race. And I know I have at least another ten years in me of racing, so while I'm racing, I want to be successful.”

Perhaps the closest parallel to Johnson's four straight championships can be found in Lance Armstrong's all-but-unfathomable seven consecutive victories in the Tour de France. For seven straight years, Armstrong was willing to torture himself to prepare for one of sport's most gruelling events.

Nor did Johnson relax after winning his third title last year. Instead, he paid more attention to his diet and ramped up his exercise and fitness program. Once satisfied to run second — if he gave his best effort — Johnson now stands at the pinnacle of stock car racing.

“I'm happy that I'm operating at this high of a level, but from my days of riding motorcycles, I knew there were days when I left the track that I did all that I could,” he explained. “That's all I ask myself, just to know in the bottom of my heart that I did all I could that day.

“If I did, I left the track happy. And for a large part of my career, I left the track happy, with a second-place trophy or a fifth-place trophy — I didn't have this kind of success. It's amazing to me now that I leave the track happy with the trophy and four of these things.”

One person not likely to let Johnson settle for second is crew chief Chad Knaus. One hour after the checkered flag Sunday, and 84 days before the next Daytona 500, Knaus already was stewing.

“I just got the gut-wrenching feeling that 2010 is coming soon,” Knaus said. “It just hit me. So, wow.”

Johnson's fellow drivers don't think he's finished rewriting the record books.

“I can't put Jimmie in history because he's not done yet. I think it's premature to try to do that,” Jeff Burton said after finishing second to Denny Hamlin in Sunday's Ford 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway. “But anybody that doesn't respect what they've done isn't being fair to them.

“I understand pulling for somebody else — I get all that. I don't really like the Cowboys very much. But I really think that I should respect what they've done, because it's been incredible … if you would have told me four years ago that somebody would win four championships in a row, I would tell you you're crazy.”

by Reid Spencer/Sporting News



Related Pictures

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Jimmie Johnson [Pic credit: Getty for NASCAR]
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser Chevrolet, celebrates with a burnout after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 16, 2014 in Homestead, Florida. (Photo Credit: Chris Trotman/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser Chevrolet, and Ryan Newman, driver of the #31 Caterpillar Chevrolet, lead a pack of cars during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 16, 2014 in Homestead, Florida.  (Photo Credit: Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
Denny Hamlin, driver of the #11 FedEx Express Toyota, practices for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 14, 2014 in Homestead, Florida.  (Photo Credit: Todd Warshaw/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser Chevrolet, passes Denny Hamlin, driver of the #11 FedEx Express Toyota, to take the lead and win the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 16, 2014 in Homestead, Florida. (Photo Credit: Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
Joey Logano, driver of the #22 Shell-Pennzoil Ford, pits during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 16, 2014 in Homestead, Florida. (Photo Credit: Jerry Markland/Getty Images)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser Chevrolet, and team owner Tony Stewart celebrate winning in Victory Lane after the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 16, 2014 in Homestead, Florida. (Photo Credit: Todd Warshaw/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser Chevrolet, celebrates with his wife DeLana and son Keelan in victory lane after winning during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 16, 2014 in Homestead, Florida. (Photo Credit: Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser Chevrolet, celebrates with the trophy in Victory Lane after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 16, 2014 in Homestead, Florida. (Photo Credit: Sean Gardner/Getty Images)
Marcos Ambrose, driver of the #9 Stanley Ford, poses with his team before his last race, the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 16, 2014 in Homestead, Florida.  (Photo Credit: Jerry Markland/Getty Images)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser Chevrolet SS, celebrates his victory and the 2014 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Championship Sunday, November 16, 2014 winning the final NASCAR Sprint Cup race of the season at Homestead-Miami Speedway in Homestead, Florida. Ryan Newman, driver of the #31 Caterpillar Chevrolet SS finishes 2nd. (Photo by Harold Hinson/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser Chevrolet SS, celebrates his victory and the 2014 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Championship Sunday, November 16, 2014 winning the final NASCAR Sprint Cup race of the season at Homestead-Miami Speedway in Homestead, Florida. Ryan Newman, driver of the #31 Caterpillar Chevrolet SS finishes 2nd. (Photo by Harold Hinson/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser Chevrolet SS, celebrates his victory and the 2014 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Championship Sunday, November 16, 2014 winning the final NASCAR Sprint Cup race of the season at Homestead-Miami Speedway in Homestead, Florida. Ryan Newman, driver of the #31 Caterpillar Chevrolet SS finishes 2nd. (Photo by Harold Hinson/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser Chevrolet SS, celebrates his victory and the 2014 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Championship Sunday, November 16, 2014 winning the final NASCAR Sprint Cup race of the season at Homestead-Miami Speedway in Homestead, Florida. Ryan Newman, driver of the #31 Caterpillar Chevrolet SS finishes 2nd. (Photo by Christa L Thomas/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser Chevrolet SS, celebrates his victory and the 2014 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Championship Sunday, November 16, 2014 winning the final NASCAR Sprint Cup race of the season at Homestead-Miami Speedway in Homestead, Florida. Ryan Newman, driver of the #31 Caterpillar Chevrolet SS finishes 2nd. (Photo by Garry Eller/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser Chevrolet, leads Jeff Gordon, driver of the #24 Drive To End Hunger Chevrolet, during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 16, 2014 in Homestead, Florida.  (Photo Credit: Sean Gardner/Getty Images)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser Chevrolet, celebrates in Victory Lane after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Ford EcoBoost 400 and the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Championship at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 16, 2014 in Homestead, Florida. (Photo Credit: Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser Chevrolet, celebrates in victory lane after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 16, 2014 in Homestead, Florida.  (Photo Credit: Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

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Philly - Unregistered

November 26, 2009 4:51 PM

I still say Jimmie Johnson only won cause Nascar told all the other drivers to leave him alone. This should of been Mark Martin's year but nascar didn't see it that way they think of Jimmie as the new golden boy first it was all Jeff Gorden for awhile now it's all Jimmie. Don't nascar get it not everyone wants to watch the races while they say who wins the titles and who don't. I'll still watch the races just not as close cause the same thing will happen next year Jimmie won't run really perfect till the chase comes then his crew will rig the car so he runs perfect all chase and nascar will tell everyone to leave him alone so he can win another cup FIXED FIXED FIXED



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