Keeping Pace

Johnson’s Four-Peat Ranks Him With Sports’ Greatest Of All Time

Hendrick Motorsports teammates look on as Jimmie Johnson hoists the Sprint Cup trophy for the fourth consecutive season. (Photo Credit: Rusty Jarrett/Getty Images for NASCAR)  (Rusty Jarrett / Getty Images North America)
Hendrick Motorsports teammates look on as Jimmie Johnson hoists the Sprint Cup trophy for the fourth consecutive season. (Photo Credit: Rusty Jarrett/Getty Images for NASCAR) (Rusty Jarrett / Getty Images North America)

After capping off his fourth consecutive championship season, Jimmie Johnson has put his Hendrick Motorsports’ No. 48 Lowe’s Chevrolet team in an echelon that includes few others.

Courtesy: NASCAR Media Relations

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Nov. 22, 2009) – By any measure of the term, the “Jimmie Johnson Dynasty” began in 2002, four years before he hoisted his first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series trophy. Four near-championships in his first four seasons, including two runner-up finishes, gave way to an unprecedented four straight NASCAR Sprint Cup titles from 2006-2009. Johnson’s ongoing string of success is not only impressive as it relates to its place in NASCAR history; it stands up against the greatest sporting achievements of all time.

After capping off his fourth consecutive championship season, Jimmie Johnson has put his Hendrick Motorsports’ No. 48 Lowe’s Chevrolet team in an echelon that includes few others. The New York Yankees (1936-1939 and 1949-1953), Boston Celtics (1959-1966), Montreal Canadiens (1956-1960 and 1976-1979) and New York Islanders (1980-1983) are the only teams in the history of the MLB, NBA, NFL and NHL to win four straight titles. Other four-peat teams are the UCLA Bruins Men’s Basketball team (1967-1973), the WNBA’s Houston Comets (1997-2000), the CFL’s Edmonton Eskimos (1978-1982) and the Cleveland Browns (1946-1949) with the old AAFC.

A handful of athletes in individual sports can also claim four-in-a-row honors. Tiger Woods (1998-2003) and Pete Sampras (1993-1998) each hold the record in their respective sport for most consecutive years ranked No. 1. Carl Lewis is the only Olympian to earn four straight gold medals in the same event, taking the honors in Long Jump in 1984, 1988, 1992 and 1996. While not a year-long championship, Lance Armstrong’s seven straight Tour de France victories certainly qualify for dynasty distinction.

One of the teams most synonymous with “sports dynasty” is the New York Yankees, winners of 10 World Series crowns in 16 years and five additional league titles. Hall of Fame catcher Yogi Berra knows what it takes to maintain long-term success – he was the only player on all 10 of the Yankees’ championship teams during that stretch.

“The key was the organization’s commitment to winning,” Berra said when asked what goes into establishing a dynasty in sports. “It was expected everyone on our team do his share, and we all pulled for each other.”

Johnson similarly attributed his on-track success to his core group of crew members.

“Those key players, guys I started this team with, are still at HMS,” Johnson said. “There is a lot of confidence in my mind knowing that (crew chief) Chad (Knaus) has been here before, our engineers have been here before … that gives me the comfort to sleep at night.”

Johnson’s team is the first in major sports to win four straight since the Islanders took home Stanley Cup number four in 1983. Hall of Famer Mike Bossy was the leading scorer on three of the Islanders’ four Stanley Cup champion teams.

“It takes a special blend of commitment, passion and drive to win consecutive championships, let alone four in any athletic endeavor,” Bossy said. “Winning four Stanley Cup championships was a testament to the teamwork and camaraderie our four teams had in proving we were a true dynasty. I would like to congratulate Jimmie on accomplishing this very special feat.”

Johnson’s feat certainly ranks among the most proficient sports has seen. Even more impressive is the fact that it is not over yet; Johnson and Knaus have shown no signs of slowing going into 2010 and beyond.

Berra, known for his memorable soundbites, offered Johnson this sage advice for the future.

“Just stay alive.”




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Keeping Pace

Motorsports correspondent Doug Pace keeps up with motorsports news and notes from around the region.




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