Johnson’s Four-Peat Ranks Him With Sports’ Greatest
After capping off his fourth consecutive championship season, Jimmie Johnson has put his Hendrick Motorsports’ No. 48 Lowe’s Chevrolet team in an echelon that includes few others. The New York Yankees (1936-1939 and 1949-1953), Boston Celtics (1959-1966), Montreal Canadiens (1956-1960 and 1976-1979) and New York Islanders (1980-1983) are the only teams in the history of the MLB, NBA, NFL and NHL to win four straight titles. Other four-peat teams are the UCLA Bruins Men’s Basketball team (1967-1973), the WNBA’s Houston Comets (1997-2000), the CFL’s Edmonton Eskimos (1978-1982) and the Cleveland Browns (1946-1949) with the old AAFC.
A handful of athletes in individual sports can also claim four-in-a-row honors. Tiger Woods (1998-2003) and Pete Sampras (1993-1998) each hold the record in their respective sport for most consecutive years ranked No. 1. Carl Lewis is the only Olympian to earn four straight gold medals in the same event, taking the honors in Long Jump in 1984, 1988, 1992 and 1996. While not a year-long championship, Lance Armstrong’s seven straight Tour de France victories certainly qualify for dynasty distinction.
One of the teams most synonymous with “sports dynasty” is the New York Yankees, winners of 10 World Series crowns in 16 years and five additional league titles. Hall of Fame catcher Yogi Berra knows what it takes to maintain long-term success – he was the only player on all 10 of the Yankees’ championship teams during that stretch.
“The key was the organization’s commitment to winning,” Berra said when asked what goes into establishing a dynasty in sports. “It was expected everyone on our team do his share, and we all pulled for each other.”
Johnson similarly attributed his on-track success to his core group of crew members.
“Those key players, guys I started this team with, are still at HMS,” Johnson said. “There is a lot of confidence in my mind knowing that (crew chief) Chad (Knaus) has been here before, our engineers have been here before … that gives me the comfort to sleep at night.”
Johnson’s team is the first in major sports to win four straight since the Islanders took home Stanley Cup number four in 1983. Hall of Famer Mike Bossy was the leading scorer on three of the Islanders’ four Stanley Cup champion teams.
“It takes a special blend of commitment, passion and drive to win consecutive championships, let alone four in any athletic endeavor,” Bossy said. “Winning four Stanley Cup championships was a testament to the teamwork and camaraderie our four teams had in proving we were a true dynasty. I would like to congratulate Jimmie on accomplishing this very special feat.”
Johnson’s feat certainly ranks among the most proficient sports has seen. Even more impressive is the fact that it is not over yet; Johnson and Knaus have shown no signs of slowing going into 2010 and beyond.
Berra, known for his memorable soundbites, offered Johnson this sage advice for the future.
“Just stay alive.”
Born: Sept. 17, 1975
On Sunday, Nov. 22 Jimmie Johnson captured a fourth consecutive NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship – something that has never been done before in the 61-year history of NASCAR. The dynasty continues, as the list of Johnson’s achievements grows and his statistics overwhelm. Below are some of the highlights from the “Four-Peat,” and his incredible career overall.
• Johnson has won four straight NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championships – 2006-07-08-09
• Johnson has 47 career NASCAR Sprint Cup Series wins, which puts him 13th on the all-time list. His winning percentage of 16.2% is sixth-best all-time.
• In the 144 total races from Johnson’s championship years of 2006-09, Johnson has 29 victories, coming in some of the most prestigious races in all of motorsports: Daytona 500 (2006), NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race (2006), Brickyard 400 (2006, 2008, 2009).
• In those 144 races, Johnson had 64 top fives, 94 top 10s, an average finish of 10.5, a Driver Rating of 107.9 and 6,340 laps led (14.9%).
• During his title years, 2006-09, Johnson collected 12 wins, 24 top fives and 31 top 10s in the 40 Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup races. He averaged a finish of 7.1 and led 2,756 laps (21.5%).
• Johnson is the only driver to make all six Chases. In the 60 Chase races since 2004, Johnson has a series-high 18 wins -- for a winning percentage of 30%.
• He is the only driver to win four races during the 10-race Chase (three times: 2004, 2007, 2009).
• In his 40 Chase races during his championship run, Johnson has registered a series-best Driver Rating of 114.0.
• Johnson has finished in the top five in the NASCAR Sprint Cup point standings each year since his first full season in 2002.
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