Three-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion Cale Yarborough made an unannounced appearance at the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Awards Ceremony in New York City to surprise triple champion Jimmie Johnson.

Followed by a rousing standing ovation, Yarborough presented the championship ring to Johnson during this year's annual ceremony.

This season, Johnson joined Yarborough as the only drivers to win three consecutive NASCAR Sprint Cup championships. Yarborough accomplished the historic feat from 1976-78.

During Yarborough's incredible three-year stretch, he posted 28 wins, 70 top-five and 74 top-ten finishes.

"Somebody finally did it," he said. "I set a pretty good record, didn't I? It took them 30 years to tie it. There are only two of us who have done it in the 60 years of the sport. That's a pretty good accomplishment.

"You know, I haven't been to this banquet in several years, but tonight I feel like I got my racing spirit back. All he really did is tie the record - he still has to break it. He still has some work to do. I want to congratulate Jimmie; he's a great man and a great racer. I know he's going to win some more championships. Maybe he can skip a year though."

Johnson matched Yarborough's record with another typically brilliant performance. In 2008, Johnson had seven wins, 15 top fives and 22 top tens.

"What a surprise and what an honour to have Cale present me with the championship ring," Johnson said. "I'm pretty much floored."