In what was a wild, dramatic final race of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season, an historic moment happened for the sport. Jimmie Johnson won the Ford EcoBoost 400 and in that, won his record tying seventh Sprint Cup Series championship tying Richard Petty and the late great Dale Earnhardt for the most in the history of NASCAR.
The final 15 laps were some of the most exciting racing I’ve ever seen as a NASCAR fan. Carl Edwards had the championship won until he blocked Joey Logano on a restart which led to a big wreck that included both drivers. Edwards’ car was destroyed and he didn’t finish the race while Logano just had some fender damage and was able to continue.
Johnson escaped the wreck and became the leader amongst the four championship finalists. Logano got fresh tires and sliced his way through the field to close in on Johnson before the final caution came out.
On the final restart, Johnson got around the driver who was dominating the race Kyle Larson to take the lead. Logano couldn’t get the restart like he did before to run down Johnson and to settle for fourth place. Larson along with Kevin Harvick led 211 of the 268 laps but couldn’t get one more win to cap off the season, they finished respectively 2nd and 3rd.
For what Jimmie Johnson has done is quite remarkable and is one of the dominant dynasties in sports history. Not only has he won seven championships, he’s done that in ten years. Other teams in sports history that have won seven championships in ten years include the Boston Celtics in the NBA, the Cleveland Browns in the AAFC/NFL, the New York Yankees in the MLB, and the UCLA Bruins in NCAA basketball.
His Hall of Fame ticket was already punched going into today’s race but with seven championships and 80 wins, Johnson can easily belong in the discussion as the greatest driver in NASCAR history. For what he’s done since entering the Cup Series in 2002, it’s been quite a sight to watch. I didn’t get to see Richard Petty or Dale Earnhardt in their prime but I know it was on the level of what Johnson has done if not greater.
And Johnson’s career isn’t over yet. He’s only 41 years old and is still racing at an elite level. He’s going to be the obvious favorite to win the championship next season and I think he can win many more championships before he hangs up his helmet.