Jimmie Johnson announced his retirement after the 2020 season Wednesday. That he will be on the NASCAR Hall of Fame ballot the first time, but for fans who may be new to the sport might not understand just why the 44-year-old Johnson is one of the greatest champions in sports.
Here’s a recap of the career of Jimmie Johnson.
His record-tying seven Cup titles, which include five straight from 2006-2010, are equaled only by NASCAR legends Richard Petty and Dale Earnhardt. In 2009, Johnson became the first race car driver to be named Associated Press Male Athlete of the Year. The elite list of sports legends who have received the honor include icons such as Muhammad Ali, Michael Jordan and Tom Brady.
All 83 of Johnson’s points-paying Cup wins have come in the No. 48 Chevrolet of Hendrick Motorsports. They include two victories in the prestigious Daytona 500, four at the historic Indianapolis Motor Speedway, a record 11 at Dover International Speedway, nine at Martinsville Speedway and eight at Charlotte Motor Speedway. He has led nearly 19,000 career laps and qualified for NASCAR’s playoffs in 15 of the 16 seasons since the format’s inception in 2004.
A native of El Cajon, California, Johnson began racing motorcycles at age 5 followed by off-road trucks and eventually cars on pavement. At 25, he made his NASCAR Cup Series debut at Charlotte on Oct. 7, 2001, and this past Sunday recorded his 651st career start in the 2019 season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway. His 19th and final full-time season will open with the Daytona on Feb. 16, 2020.
JIMMIE JOHNSON FACTS:
- 18 full-time NASCAR Cup Series seasons (2002-2019)
- Seven-time Cup Series champion (2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2013, 2016)
- Seven championships tied with Richard Petty and Dale Earnhardt for most all-time
- Only driver to win five consecutive Cup Series championships (2006-2010)
- 651 career points-paying Cup Series starts
- 648 consecutive starts; tied for sixth-most all-time
- 16 consecutive seasons with a win (2002-2017); tied for third-longest all-time
- Cup Series record 15 playoff appearances, all consecutive (2004-2018)
- First Cup Series win: Auto Club Speedway on April 28, 2002, in 13th career start
- 36 Cup Series pole positions
- 46 Cup Series runner-up finishes
- 227 Cup Series top-five finishes (35%)
- 364 Cup Series top-10 finishes (56%)
- 18,834 Cup Series laps led
- Led in 346 of 651 starts (53%)
- 83 career Cup Series wins; tied for sixth-most all-time with Cale Yarborough
- 47 wins from 2002-2009; winningest driver of the decade
- 36 wins from 2010-2019; third-winningest driver of the decade
- Won on 20 of 25 Cup Series tracks where he has raced
- 28 career Cup Series wins on 1.5-mile tracks; most all-time
- Two or more Cup Series wins at 17 different racetracks
- Cup Series “Crown Jewel” wins: DAYTONA 500 (2006, 2013), Charlotte 600 (2003, 2004, 2005, 2014), Brickyard 400 (2006, 2008, 2009, 2012) and Southern 500 (2004, 2012)
- Won Hendrick Motorsports’ 200th race at Darlington in 2012
- Has competed against 262 different drivers over 651 career Cup Series starts
- Leads all drivers in wins at Dover (11), Charlotte oval (8), Texas (7), Auto Club (6), Las Vegas (4) and Kansas (3; tie)