Whenever you win five consecutive championships in a sport, you're firmly implanted in dynasty territory. It's safe to say that Jimmie Johnson, who's won five consecutive Sprint Cup Series titles, has become NASCAR's most dominant driver since 2006.
Johnson's victory at Kansas Speedway on Sunday moved him into third place in this year's Sprint Cup standings. With a sixth Sprint Cup Series championship now well within reach with six races remaining, perhaps it's time that we consider Johnson not just for what he definitely is, a perennial contender, but for what he could also be considered — one of the sport's all-time greats.
Johnson has consistently outperformed his competition, which has led to him being named Driver of the Year on four occasions. In 2009, his success drew the praise of even those outside the sport, as he was named the Associated Press Male Athlete of the Year.
When he won his third consecutive Sprint Cup Series championship in 2008, he became only the second driver in history to do so — the other was Cale Yarborough. But that wasn't enough for the tenacious driver, as he picked up two more titles in 2009 and 2010.
Between 2002 — when he moved to Hendrick Motorsports — and 2011, he had recorded 55 wins, 223 top-10's and 25 pole positions. For a while it looked like 2011 could mark the end of his historic championship run, but he's proving that you can never count him out, especially with a wide-open field like this year.
NASCAR has seen some other highly regarded drivers throughout its illustrious history, though.
Dale Earnhardt earned the nickname, "The Intimidator," for his dominance on the track. He racked up seven championships and 76 wins. He accomplished that all before his unfortunate death, which came at a time when he was still on top.
Then, of course, there's Richard Petty, who had seven championships and a record 200 wins over the course of his career. More importantly, though, he helped pave the way for the NASCAR of today.
Even Jeff Gordon, Bobby Allison and David Pearson are regarded as some of the greatest the sport has ever seen.
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