Many of today's NASCAR fans have listened to stories about Richard Petty, Cale Yarborough, David Pearson, and Dale Earnhardt from the generations of fans that have come before them. Stories about the greatest NASCAR drivers of all time. Many years from now today's fans will be telling those same stories, but about Jimmie Johnson who solidified himself as one of the best NASCAR drivers- if not the best- by winning his sixth Sprint Cup Series championship.
Johnson entered the race knowing that all he had to do was finish 23rd or better to win, but he didn't lay back. Instead he was running three-wide early and often.
Restarts were crazy all race long, but one restart in particular had everybody in the no. 48 pit on edge. On a lap 194 restart Johnson took damage to the left-front fender after he made contact with his main competitor for the championship, Matt Kenseth. Jeff Gordon was leading the outside line when he spun the tires. Kenseth got into the back of Gordon and that stacked up everybody. The caution came out a few laps later for a blown right-rear tire on Paul Menard's car and that enabled the 48 team to fix the damage to his fender.
The team rallied back to the front and Johnson beat that 23rd-place requirement by quite a bit. He finished ninth to clinch the championship. A championship that solidifies his place among the greats of the sport.
This was Johnson's 12th season in the Cup Series, and he's won a championship in half of those. Johnson posted an average finish during the Chase of 5.1. His lowest finish throughout the Chase was 13th at Talladega.
Kenseth had an incredibly strong race from the pole position. He led the most laps and finished second, but with Johnson's strong run it wasn't enough to come close to the championship after his poor run at Phoenix last week. He finished the 2013 season with seven victories, but 19 points behind Johnson for the title.
Meanwhile, Denny Hamlin concluded what was a horrible 2013 season in the best way possible. He led 72 laps and won the race. He kept a streak alive of winning at least one race in every single season he's run at the Sprint Cup level.
Dale Earnhardt Jr
Martin Truex Jr.