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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]
Brian Scott. (Picture Credit: Ronald Martinez/Getty Images for Texas Motor Speedway)
Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe’s Chevrolet SS, holds his daughter, Lydia Sunday, November 22, 2015 before final race of the 2015 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season at Homestead-Miami Speedway in Homestead, Florida. Johnson and other Jeff Gordon teammates at Hendrick Motorsports wore tribute hats to honor the retiring Chevy driver prior to the start of the race. (Photo by Alan Marler/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Jeff Gordon, driver of the #24 Axalta Chevrolet SS, races to a sixth place finish Sunday, November 22, 2015 in the final race of the 2015 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season at Homestead-Miami Speedway in Homestead, Florida. Gordon finishes third in the Chase for the Cup Championship. This was Gordon`s last race as a NASCAR Sprint Cup driver. He has made 796 consecutive Cup Series starts, earned 93 wins, and 81 poles - all behind the wheel of Chevrolets. (Photo by Andrew Coppley/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Defending Sprint Cup Champion Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser/Jimmy John’s Chevrolet SS, races to a second place finish, Sunday, November 22, 2015 in the final race of the 2015 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season at Homestead-Miami Speedway in Homestead, Florida. Harvick finishes as the runner-up in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Championship. (Photo by Andrew Coppley/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Defending Sprint Cup Champion Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser/Jimmy John’s Chevrolet SS, races to a second place finish, Jeff Gordon, driver of the #24 Axalta Chevrolet SS finishes in sixth place, and Martin Truex, Jr., driver of the #78 Furniture Row/Visser Precision finishes in twelfth place Sunday, November 22, 2015 in the final race of the 2015 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season at Homestead-Miami Speedway in Homestead, Florida. This Chevrolet drivers finished 2nd, 3rd and 4th (respectively) in the Chase of the Cup Championship. (Photo by Harold Hinson/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Ryan Blaney and the Motorcraft/Quick Lane Racing Team battled back from a bad re-start after the first caution of the race to finish 17th in the season-ending Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway. (Photo Credit: Campbell Marketing)
Series championship contenders Jeff Gordon, driver of the #24 AXALTA Chevrolet, Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser/Jimmy John`s Chevrolet, Martin Truex Jr., driver of the #78 Furniture Row/Denver Mattress Chevrolet, and Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 M&M`s Crispy Toyota, take part in pre-race ceremonies for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 22, 2015 in Homestead, Florida.  (Photo Credit: Chris Trotman/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Former racing driver Mario Andretti, Jeff Gordon, driver of the #24 AXALTA Chevrolet, and Formula One World Champion Lewis Hamilton pose during pre-race ceremonies for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 22, 2015 in Homestead, Florida.  (Photo Credit: Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)
Joey Logano, driver of the #22 Shell Pennzoil Ford, and Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 M&M`s Crispy Toyota, race during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 22, 2015 in Homestead, Florida (Photo Credit: Chris Trotman/Getty Images)
Jeff Gordon, driver of the #24 AXALTA Chevrolet, pits during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 22, 2015 in Homestead, Florida. (Photo Credit: Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)
A general view as cars pit during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 22, 2015 in Homestead, Florida. (Photo Credit: Robert Laberge/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser/Jimmy John`s Chevrolet, Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 M&M`s Crispy Toyota, Jeff Gordon, driver of the #24 AXALTA Chevrolet, and Martin Truex Jr., driver of the #78 Furniture Row/Denver Mattress Chevrolet, race during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 22, 2015 in Homestead, Florida. (Photo Credit: Chris Trotman/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 M&M`s Crispy Toyota, crosses the finish line to win the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 22, 2015 in Homestead, Florida.  (Photo Credit: Jonathan Ferrey/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 M&M`s Crispy Toyota, celebrates winning the series championship and the race with a burnout after the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 22, 2015 in Homestead, Florida. (Photo Credit: Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 M&M`s Crispy Toyota, celebrates winning the series championship and the race in Victory Lane after the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 22, 2015 in Homestead, Florida. (Photo Credit: Sean Gardner/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 M&M`s Crispy Toyota, celebrates winning the series championship and the race with his team after the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 22, 2015 in Homestead, Florida. (Photo Credit: Chris Trotman/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 M&M`s Crispy Toyota, celebrates with the trophy in Victory Lane after winning the series championship and the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 22, 2015 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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