Jimmie Johnson is under-rated and under-appreciated

I didn’t say that, but I wanted to.

No, the man who said that is a very respected individual in his own right. He is a 27 year veteran in his profession and is extremely respected by his peers. To have this man speak words like this about Jimmie Johnson is remarkable, but not hard to believe. This 50 year old, who holds such high esteem for 34 year old Jimmie Johnson, is none other than Mark Martin.

Why do I feel this is important to share? Well for starters, Mark Martin has never won a Championship and is arguably the best driver to have never won a Championship. He has finished second 4 times. Who were those drivers he finished behind? How about none other than Dale Earnhardt twice in 1990 and 1994, Jeff Gordon in 1998, and Tony Stewart in 2002. All while driving a Ford for Jack Roush.

For Mark Martin to say that he doesn’t mind coming in second to Jimmie is putting Jimmie in the same category as the other three drivers he has played second fiddle to. Nice company wouldn’t you say?

Only three other drivers in the history of NASCAR have won four or more Championships (Richard Petty, Dale Earnhardt, Jeff Gordon). Jimmie is one race from joining that club too. In fact all he has to do is finish 25th or better. For Mark Martin to win the Championship he has to win the race and Jimmie needs to finish 31st or worse. When Jimmie starts his engine, Jeff Gordon will be eliminated from winning the Cup altogether. And since Jimmie qualified on the pole, that seems a fore gone conclusion.

Three men at the top of their sport. History would be made if either of them won the Championship, but none so memorable than four in a row. For Jeff Gordon to win his 5th is awesome enough, but not spectacular. It would be Mark’s first in his long 27 year career and would be to him what the Superbowl win was to John Elway. Heck, even Dan Marino didn’t win a Superbowl so Mark won’t be alone in that category if it doesn’t happen this year.

But for Jimmie to win an unprecedented fourth in a row. It may never happen again.

How does that stack up against other sports? Well in baseball for example, only the New York Yankees have won four in a row (twice) and one those was actually five in a row. The Green Bay Packers won 3 NFL Championships in a row (twice), including the last NFL Championship and the first two AFL-NFL World Championship games which would later be renamed to Superbowl I and II.

The Chicago Bulls won three in a row (twice), the Lakers have done it (twice, once in Minnesota), and the Celtics stand alone with eight wins in a row and 9 of 10 in that same stretch.

In the NHL you have two teams who have accomplished four in a row, the Montreal Canadiens and the new York Islanders.

So where does the 48 team fit into this?

My response? They fit in right along with the rest of them.

Don’t believe me?

Just ask Mark Martin.

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