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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]
Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe`s Chevrolet SS stops in the pits on his way to his win Sunday, March 1, 2015 in the NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Atlanta Motor Speedway in Hampton, Georgia. (Photo by Rusty Jarrett/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe`s Chevrolet SS races to victory Sunday, March 1, 2015 in the NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Atlanta Motor Speedway in Hampton, Georgia. (Photo by Garry Eller/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe`s Chevrolet SS celebrates his victory with a burnout Sunday, March 1, 2015 after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Atlanta Motor Speedway in Hampton, Georgia. (Photo by Andrew Coppley/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe`s Chevrolet SS celebrates his victory Sunday, March 1, 2015 after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Atlanta Motor Speedway in Hampton, Georgia. (Photo by HHP/Harold Hinson for Chevy Racing)
Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe`s Chevrolet, celebrates in victory lane after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway on March 1, 2015 in Hampton, Georgia. (Photo Credit: Jerry Markland/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe`s Chevrolet, celebrates in victory lane after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway on March 1, 2015 in Hampton, Georgia. (Photo Credit: Jerry Markland/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe`s Chevrolet, celebrates with a burnout after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway on March 1, 2015 in Hampton, Georgia. (Photo Credit: Matt Sullivan/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe`s Chevrolet, takes the chequered flag to win the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway on March 1, 2015 in Hampton, Georgia. (Photo Credit: Sarah Glenn/NASCAR via Getty Images)
A large incident occurs in turn three during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway on March 1, 2015 in Hampton, Georgia. (Photo Credit: Jonathan Moore/Getty Images)
Austin Dillon, driver of the #3 Dow Chevrolet, spins out after an incident during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway on March 1, 2015 in Hampton, Georgia.  (Photo Credit: Brian Lawdermilk/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Joey Logano, driver of the #22 Shell Pennzoil Ford, leads the field during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway on March 1, 2015 in Hampton, Georgia. (Photo Credit: Matt Sullivan/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Joey Logano, driver of the #22 Shell Pennzoil Ford, and Denny Hamlin, driver of the #11 FedEx Ground Toyota, lead the field to the green flag to start the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway on March 1, 2015 in Hampton, Georgia. (Photo Credit: Sarah Glenn/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Matt Crafton, driver of the #88 Fisher Nuts/Menards Toyota, celebrates in victory lane after winning the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Hyundai Construction Equipment 200 on February 28, 2015 in Hampton, Georgia. (Photo Credit: Matt Sullivan/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Matt Crafton, driver of the #88 Fisher Nuts/Menards Toyota, celebrates in victory lane after winning the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Hyundai Construction Equipment 200 on February 28, 2015 in Hampton, Georgia. (Photo Credit: Matt Sullivan/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Matt Crafton, driver of the #88 Fisher Nuts/Menards Toyota, celebrates with a burnout after winning the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Hyundai Construction Equipment 200 on February 28, 2015 in Hampton, Georgia.  (Photo Credit: Jeff Zelevansky/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Matt Crafton, driver of the #88 Fisher Nuts/Menards Toyota, takes the chequered flag to win the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Hyundai Construction Equipment 200 on February 28, 2015 in Hampton, Georgia.  (Photo Credit: Sarah Glenn/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Ben Kennedy, driver of the #11 Local Motors Toyota, leads the field to the green flag to start the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Hyundai Construction Equipment 200 on February 28, 2015 in Hampton, Georgia.  (Photo Credit: Brian Lawdermilk/NASCAR via 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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