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NASCAR Achievements

  • 7 time Sprint Cup Champion: 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2013, 2016
  • 2 time Daytona 500 winner: 2006, 2013
  • 4 time Brickyard 400 winner: 2006, 2008, 2009, 2012
  • 4 time All-Star race winner: 2003, 2006, 2012, 2013
  • 2005 Sprint Unlimited winner

Sprint Cup Statistics

  • Best points finish: 1st (2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2013, 2016)
  • First win: 2002 NAPA Auto Parts 500 - California
  • Last win: 2016 Ford EcoBoost 400 - Miami
  • Most wins in a season: 10 (2007)
  • Total Sprint Cup wins: 80

Sprint Cup Series Career

2001-2005: Beginnings

While racing in the NASCAR Busch (now called Nationwide) series for Herzog Motorsports Johnson sought advice from Jeff Gordon about entering the top level Winston Cup series. Gordon was impressed with him enough that he recommended him to his team owner Rick Hendrick. Hendrick and Gordon would become co-owners of the #48 Chevrolet that Johnson would drive. While still driving full time in the Busch series Johnson made a handful of starts in the 2001 Cup series as Jeff Gordon captured his 4th championship.

In 2002 Johnson had a great rookie season. He earned his first pole at the Daytona 500 and went on to score 3 wins as he finished 5th in the final standings. In 2003 he scored another 3 wins in addition to the All-Star race and finished second to Matt Kenseth in the championship standings.

In 2004 NASCAR implemented the Chase for the Cup, a 10 race 10 driver (expanded to 12 drivers in 2007) format that acted as the series' playoffs. Johnson scored 8 wins and finished second to Kurt Busch in the standings. Teammate Jeff Gordon actually scored the most points total but was beaten by Johnson and Busch in the Chase. Jimmie racked up 4 wins in 2005 and was second in points heading into the final race at Homestead-Miami but a crash half-way through the race took him out of contention and dropped him to 5th in the final standings as Tony Stewart secured his second championship.

2006-2010: Domination

2006 Daytona 500 car on Display at Hendrick Motorsports Museum
2006 Daytona 500 car on Display at Hendrick Motorsports Museum

In 2006 Johnson had what can only be described as a dream season: he won the Daytona 500, the All-Star race, the Brickyard 400, and the championship all in the same year; no other driver has accomplished this. He racked up 5 wins (not counting the non-points All-Star race) en route to his first title.

In 2007 Johnson was able to successfully defend his championship. He scored 10 victories, including four in a row, as he held off teammate Jeff Gordon for his second title.

In 2008 he racked up 7 wins, including his second Brickyard 400, and made history by becoming the second driver to win three championships in a row after Cale Yarborough did from 1976-78. At the awards banquet Yarborough jokingly told Jimmie not to stop winning championships but to take next year off so his record would stand.

Yarborough's words apparently fell on deaf ears as Johnson wrote his own page in the history books with his fourth consecutive championship. He again scored 7 wins as he finished ahead of teammates Mark Martin and Jeff Gordon, giving Hendrick Motorsports a 1-2-3 finish in the standings. Johnson also became the first, and only, driver to win back-to-back Brickyard 400s.

Johnson hoists the 2010 Sprint Cup trophy
Johnson hoists the 2010 Sprint Cup trophy

Although he was challenged greatly by Denny Hamlin in 2010, even trailing him by 14 points heading into the final race, Johnson was once again able to take the series title. He scored 6 wins, including his first ever at a road course in Sonoma, to score his historic 5th consecutive championship.

2011-Present

Johnson was always cognizant of the fact that nothing lasts forever and that eventually his streak would come to an end. 2011 turned out to be that year. He scored only two wins and finished 6th in the final standings as Tony Stewart, the last man to win the title before Johnson began his streak, captured his third Sprint Cup championship. While not a bad year by any stretch it is both the fewest wins and lowest finish in a season to date in his career.

In 2012 Johnson returned to form and won 5 races, including a 4th Brickyard 400, tieing him with Jeff Gordon for most all time. He also won his third All-Star Race, tieing him with Gordon and Dale Earnhardt for most wins in the event. With four races to go Johnson was poised to win his sixth title. Back to back wins at Martinsville and Texas gave him the points lead, but poor showings at Phoenix and Miami dropped him to 3rd in the final standings as Brad Keselowski took his first championship.

Johnson opened up the 2013 season with his second Daytona 500 win, the first race for NASCAR's new "Gen-6" car. He would also go on to win the Coke Zero 400 in July, the first time a driver had swept the Daytona races since Bobby Allison did it in 1983. He also won the All-Star Race for the second year in a row and fourth overall, breaking a tie he had with Gordon and Earnhardt. After a two year break, Johnson once again hoisted the Sprint Cup trophy at year's end, doing so on the strength of six wins, not including the All-Star victory. Johnson's sixth title puts him one step closer to tying Hall of Famers Richard Petty and Dale Earnhardt, who each have seven.

2014 saw NASCAR's introduction of the elimination style Chase wherein a field of 16 drivers make up the Chase with 4 being elimanated every 3 races until 4 are left to battle for the championship in the final race at Homestead-Miami speedway. Although he scored 4 wins he was elimanated in the 2nd Chase round, ultimately finishing 11th in the standings. This was the first time Johnson had finished outside the top 10 in points. Despite 5 wins, he once again fell out the Chase early in 2015, ultimately finishing 10th in the final standings.

Johnson gets help from a crew member to hold up 7 fingers to celebrate his 7th Championship
Johnson gets help from a crew member to hold up 7 fingers to celebrate his 7th Championship

Johnson won twice early in 2016 to lock himself into the Chase. However, he and Hendrick Motorsports often struggled with speed throughout the season leading many to predict that he, once again, wouldn't advance very far into the Chase. Johnson, however, scored a win at Charlotte to lock himself into the round of 8 (the farthest he'd ever advanced in the 3 year old elimanation style Chase). He then scored his 9th win at Martinsville speedway to lock himself into the championship 4 at Miami. At the championship round in Miami despite starting in the back and spending most of the race behind competitors Carl Edwards, Joey Logano, and Kyle Busch; Johnson found himself up front in the waning laps, and, with 3 laps to go took the lead on a restart and went on to win not only the race but his 7th championship. His 7th championship ties him for most all time with Hall of Famers Richard Petty and Dale Earnhardt.

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