NASCAR »

Johnson is Sporting News driver of year.


Jimmie Johnson has been named as Sporting News magazine's driver of the year, after becoming only the second driver to win three consecutive NASCAR Cup Series championships.

Having been quiet heading into the Chase for the Championship 'play-offs', Johnson finished the 2008 season 69 points ahead of Carl Edwards to join Cale Yarborough as the only drivers to win three consecutive championships in NASCAR's premier division, and his achievement - and those of his Hendrick Motorsports team - were rewarded with three of the five annual Sporting News awards.

As well as Johnson's title, Rick Hendrick was named owner of the year and Chad Knaus crew chief of the year, the latter after becoming the first crew chief to win three consecutive championships. Dale Earnhardt Inc's Regan Smith won the rookie of the year nomination, while Roush Fenway Racing's Edwards - who won a series-high nine races and finished second in both the Sprint Cup and Nationwide Series - earned the Dale Earnhardt Tough Driver award. All awards were determined by votes cast by Sprint Cup drivers, crew chiefs and owners.

Johnson won seven races, including three during the final ten races that make up the Chase, taking him to a record 14 victories in 50 Chase races. The last of those victories was the 40th of his career and came in his 254th start, tying Darrell Waltrip for third-fastest to the 40-win mark. Only Herb Thomas (151 races) and Hendrick team-mate and mentor Jeff Gordon (186) did it in fewer.

Knaus and Johnson have been together since 2002, Johnson's rookie season, and have earned both their success and acclaim in tandem.

“The guy [Knaus] is a star in his own right,” said Jeff Hammond, who was crew chief for two of Darrell Waltrip's three championships, “His credentials are impeccable. His success is phenomenal.”

Johnson's championship gave Hendrick his eighth Cup title, and three Hendrick drivers made the Chase for the third straight season. Gordon finished seventh and new signing Dale Earnhardt Jr twelfth in the expanded post-season group. In each of the past six seasons, Hendrick drivers have won at least eight races. No other current team has had more than two consecutive eight-win seasons.

Smith completed his season without a DNF, a remarkable accomplishment for a rookie, and, although he was winless, he did take the chequered flag first in one race, at Talladega in October. Having made a bold pass on leader Tony Stewart just before the finish line, however, NASCAR ruled the pass illegal because Smith went below the yellow line that divides the track from the apron to complete the move. Stewart, who many feel left the rookie no option to dip below the line, eventually got the win, while Smith was demoted to 18th.

Alongside Johnson, Edwards was the other star of the Chase, winning three of the final four races. His aggressive style won him notice among past champions, who said he would have done well in their era.

“He's a hard charger, and I think he would have done real good,” 1960 champion Rex White claimed, while seven-time champion Richard Petty also had kind words for the Roush Fenway pilot.

“Carl and [Dale] Earnhardt were both fierce competitors, but Carl's a lot more finesse than Dale was. That's just the style.”


Related Pictures

Click on relevant pic to enlarge
Jimmie Johnson #48 Lowe`s Chevolet [Pic credit: Image.net]
Kasey Kahne, driver of the #5 Quicken Loans Chevrolet SS, races to an eighth place finish with Dale Earnhardt, Jr., driver of the #88 Nationwide Chevrolet SS who finished in second place Saturday night, April 9, 2016 in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth, Texas.  (Photo by Alan Marler for Chevy Racing)
Chase Elliott, driver of the #24 NAPA Auto Parts Chevrolet SS, stops in his pit on his way to a fifth place finish Saturday night, April 9, 2016 in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth, Texas. Elliott takes over the #24 car from retired driver Jeff Gordon.  (Photo by Ashley R Dickerson for Chevy Racing)
Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe’s Chevrolet SS, races to a fourth place finish Saturday night, April 9, 2016 in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth, Texas.  (Photo by Alan Marler for Chevy Racing)
Dale Earnhardt, Jr., driver of the #88 Nationwide Chevrolet SS, finishes in second place Saturday night, April 9, 2016 in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth, Texas. (Photo by Brian Cleary for Chevy Racing)
Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 Interstate Batteries Toyota, celebrates in Victory Lane after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Duck Commander 500 as Texas Motor Speedway President Eddie Gossage (L) and John Godwin of Duck Commander (R) look on at Texas Motor Speedway on April 9, 2016 in Fort Worth, Texas (Photo Credit: Photo by Jared C. Tilton/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 Interstate Batteries Toyota, celebrates after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Duck Commander 500 at Texas Motor Speedway on April 9, 2016 in Fort Worth, Texas.  (Photo Credit: Photo by Jared C. Tilton/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 Interstate Batteries Toyota, celebrates with a burnout after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Duck Commander 500 at Texas Motor Speedway on April 9, 2016 in Fort Worth, Texas.  (Photo Credit: Photo by Sarah Crabill/Getty Images for Texas Motor Speedway)
Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 Interstate Batteries Toyota, celebrates winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Duck Commander 500 at Texas Motor Speedway on April 9, 2016 in Fort Worth, Texas.  (Photo Credit: Photo by Sarah Crabill/Getty Images for Texas Motor Speedway)
Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 Interstate Batteries Toyota, takes the chequered flag to win the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Duck Commander 500 at Texas Motor Speedway on April 9, 2016 in Fort Worth, Texas.  (Photo Credit: Photo by Robert Laberge/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Carl Edwards, driver of the #19 Stanley Toyota, leads the field to the green flag to start the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Duck Commander 500 at Texas Motor Speedway on April 9, 2016 in Fort Worth, Texas.  (Photo Credit: Photo by Robert Laberge/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Martin Truex Jr., driver of the #78 Bass Pro Shops/TRACKER Boats Toyota, practices for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Duck Commander 500 at Texas Motor Speedway on April 7, 2016 in Fort Worth, Texas.  (Photo Credit: Photo by Jared C. Tilton/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Carl Edwards, driver of the #19 Stanley Toyota, poses with the Coors Light Pole Award after qualifying for the pole position for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Duck Commander 500 at Texas Motor Speedway on April 8, 2016 in Fort Worth, Texas.  (Photo Credit: Photo by Jared C. Tilton/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Carl Edwards, driver of the #19 Stanley Toyota, poses with the Coors Light Pole Award after qualifying for the pole position for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Duck Commander 500 at Texas Motor Speedway on April 8, 2016 in Fort Worth, Texas.  (Photo Credit: Photo by Jared C. Tilton/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 M&M`s 75th Anniversary Toyota, celebrates in Victory Lane after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series STP 500 at Martinsville Speedway on April 3, 2016 in Martinsville, Virginia. (Photo Credit: Photo by Matt Sullivan/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 M&M`s 75th Anniversary Toyota, celebrates in Victory Lane after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series STP 500 at Martinsville Speedway on April 3, 2016 in Martinsville, Virginia. (Photo Credit: Photo by Sean Gardner/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 M&M`s 75th Anniversary Toyota, celebrates with the chequered flag after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series STP 500 at Martinsville Speedway on April 3, 2016 in Martinsville, Virginia. (Photo Credit: Photo by Sarah Crabill/Getty Images)
Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 M&M`s 75th Anniversary Toyota, crosses the finish line to win the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series STP 500 at Martinsville Speedway on April 3, 2016 in Martinsville, Virginia. (Photo Credit: Photo by Sean Gardner/NASCAR via Getty Images)

Start the conversation - Add your comment

Please login or register before adding your comments.

Although the administrators and moderators of this website will attempt to keep all objectionable comments off these pages, it is impossible for us to review all messages. All messages express the views of the poster, and neither Crash Media Group nor Crash.Net will be held responsible for the content of any message. We do not vouch for or warrant the accuracy, completeness or usefulness of any message, and are not responsible for the contents of any message. If you find a message objectionable, please contact us and inform us of the problem or use the [report] function next to the offending post. Any message that does not conform with the policy of this service can be edited or removed with immediate effect.




© 1999 - 2016 Crash Media Group

The total or partial reproduction of text, photographs or illustrations is not permitted in any form.