Monday, November 23, 2009

Jimmie Johnson Wins His Fourth Straight NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Title

by ESPN News Services

HOMESTEAD, Fla. -- Jimmie Johnson was chasing much more than a championship.

He was also chasing NASCAR history.

The most dominant driver of this decade won a record fourth consecutive championship Sunday night at Homestead-Miami Speedway, where he raced hard to finish fifth when 25th place would have gotten the job done.

In doing so, Johnson joined Richard Petty (7), Dale Earnhardt (7) and teammate Jeff Gordon (4) as the only drivers to win more than three titles.

"The cool thing is, we're not done yet," he warned.

All he ever wanted was a chance to race against the very best. Maybe even win a race or two.

Never did he expect to be a champion.

Especially four times over.

"I grew up on two wheels in the dirt," the 34-year-old Californian said. "I had no clue I was going to end up here racing stock cars and doing something that had never been done before. To do something that's never been done in the sport, and love the sport like I do and respect it like I do and the greats -- Petty, Earnhardt, Gordon -- to do something they have never done is so awesome.

"And to win four championships in eight years, what this team has done -- this is unbelievable."

Johnson bulldozed his way into the record books, pouncing when the 10-race Chase for the Sprint Cup championship began to pull team owner Rick Hendrick into the record books with him. Johnson's title gave a record 12th overall championship to Hendrick, who was in North Carolina with a niece who was undergoing an emergency liver transplant.

In his absence, Johnson, Mark Martin and Gordon celebrated a 1-2-3 finish in the final points standings, the first time in NASCAR history a team owner has swept the standings with cars he has solely owned the entire season.

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