- September 17, 1975
- United States
- Nascar Cup Series
- Hendrick Motorsports
American stock car racing driver Jimmie Johnson deserved his place on the list as one of the greatest NASCAR drivers in a history when he took his seventh Sprint Cup Series title in 2016. Prior to that, he collected five consecutive championship titles from 2006 to 2010 and sixth trophies in 2013. Besides him, only two NASCAR drivers have seven titles – Richard Petty and Dale Earnhardt.
80 Cup wins and seven titles with #48 Chevrolet
Jimmie Johnson debuted in NASCAR in 1998 and since then he recorded more than 630 races in all three NASCAR national series, scoring 80 wins in the Cup Series races and one victory in the Busch Series. He spent his entire NASCAR Sprint Cup career in the Hendrick Motorsports' no 48 Chevrolet. Alongside NASCAR, Johnson participated seven times in the 24 hours of Daytona, finishing in second place two times (2005 and 2008).
Little Jimmie started racing with motorcycles
Jimmie Kenneth Johnson was born on September 17, 1975, in El Cajon, California. He started to race with motorcycles at the age of four. His next motorsport discipline was off-road racing. Between 1993 and 1997, he competed in SODA, SCORE and MTEG competitions, earning the Rookie of the Year awards in all three series and collecting more than 25 victories.
NASCAR debut in the 1998 Busch Series
In 1998, Jimmie entered stock car racing, competing full season in the ASA National Tour Series. He was driving the #44 Chevrolet for Herzog Motorsports. With one pole position and six Top 5 finishes, he was classified fourth in the final standings, receiving the Rookie of the Year trophy. The same year, he debuted in NASCAR Busch Series. His first race was the Kroger 200 on July 31, at Indianapolis Raceway Park in the ST Motorsports #59 Chevrolet. Jimmie finished 25th. Later in the season, he was driving #59 Chevrolet at Gateway International Raceway and #43 Chevrolet for Mike Curb at Homestead-Miami.
In 1999, Johnson's returned to the ASA Series with Herzog's Chevrolet, winning two races and finishing third in the points. In the 1999 Busch Series, Johnson's schedule was expanded to five races. He was driving #92 Chevrolet for Herzog Motorsports , reaching the seventh place at Milwaukee Mile which was his best result.
First full season and maiden victory with #92 Chevrolet
The season of 2000 was Johnson's first full season in the Busch Series. He continued to drive #92 Chevrolet. He was among Top 10 drivers six times and finished the season in tenth place. In 2001, one more full season in the Busch Series followed. On July 14, 2001, Jimmie scored his maiden NASCAR victory, winning the race at Chicagoland Speedway. It remained his only Busch Series victory in a career. In the points standings, he finished eighth.
On October 7, 2001, at Lowe's Motor Speedway, Johnson debuted in the Winston Cup Series, driving the #48 Chevrolet for Hendrick Motorsports for the first time. He crashed out on lap 193. Later in the season, he had two more appearances in the Winston Cup races at Homestead and Atlanta.
Johnson scored three wins in maiden Cup season
The #48 car remained Jimmie's car for his entire career, starting with 2002 Winston Cup season, his first full season in the premier NASCAR series. Jimmie had an incredible rookie season, winning three races and adding eighteen more Top 10 finishes. Johnson surprized all with pole position in the season-opening Daytona 500. In the race, he finished 15th.
The maiden Cup victory came on April 28, at California Speedway in Fontana. Jimmie won the NAPA Auto Parts 500, ahead of Kurt Busch. Two more wins followed at Dover International Speedway in June and September. At the end of the season, Johnson finished fifth in the points.
Championship runner-up in the second season
During 2003, Johnson won three races, Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway and both New Hampshire races. With twenty Top 10 finishes Johnson was second in the points at the end of the season, 90 points behind Matt Kenseth. Jimmie also won the All-Star race for the first time.
In 2004, Johnson again finished as a runner-up in the Nextel Cup standings, just eight points behind Kurt Busch and eight points ahead of Jeff Gordon. During the season, Jimmie scored eight victories (two times at Charlotte, Pocono and Darlington, one time at Martinsville and Atlanta).
The season overshadowed by tragedy
The season was marked by a tragedy on October 24. Ricky Hendrick, a son of the team owner Rick Hendrick's, and nine more people were killed in an airplane crash en route to Martinsville. Johnson won that race and he was told about the accident after the race.
In 2005, Johnson won at Las Vegas, Lowe's Motor Speedway, Dover International Speedway, and then again at Lowe's. In the season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway, he had a chance to win the title but he finished 5th in points after crashing in the middle of the race.
Jimmie's first championship title in 2006
And then, the season of 2006 came, in which Jimmie took his first championship title. It was the beginning of the fantastic winning streak with six consecutive Cup Series titles, an unprecedented achievement in a history of NASCAR.
Johnson's first championship-winning season started with a victory at Daytona 500. He finished second in the next race at California Speedway and won the third round at Las Vegas. Later in the season, Johnson added wins at Talladega, Indianapolis and Martinsville and took his first title with 56 points gap ahead of Matt Kenseth.
Ten wins for the second title
The season of 2007 was the most successful in Johnson's career, as he recorded 10 wins, four pole positions and twenty Top 5 finishes. Total of 10 wins included sweeping both races at Richmond, Atlanta and Martinsville plus wins at Las Vegas, Auto Club, Texas and Phoenix. At the end of the season, he had 57 points more than Jeff Gordon.
The third consecutive Sprint Cup Series title followed in 2008 and Johnson became the second driver who achieved that. Cale Yarborough was the first one and he achieved it in 1978. During the season, Johnson won seven races, six pole positions and 15 top fives. He swept both races at Phoenix and added victories at Indianapolis, Fontana, Richmond, Kansas and Martinsville.
Fourth title for all-time record
In 2009, Johnson won his fourth consecutive title and set the all-time record, by being the only driver who did that. Throughout this season, he won seven races, four poles, sixteen Top 5 finishes. He was victorious both times at Dover and added wins at Martinsville, Indianapolis, Auto Club Speedway, Lowe's and Phoenix.
Six wins and seventeen Top 5 finishes were enough for the 2010 Sprint Cup Series title, Johnson's fifth in a row. He was victorious at Fontana, Las Vegas, Bristol, Sonoma, New Hampshire and Dover. With six new victories, he climbed to 10th place on the all-time winners list. Johnson was also named Driver of the Year for the fourth time in his career.
Two seasons without titles
Johnson's championship-winning streak was over in 2010 when Tony Stewart became the champion. With two wins, at Talladega and Kansas, Jimmie finished sixth in the points. He was in the second place five times. At Talladega's Aaron's 499, Johnson won by crossing the finish line by 0.002 seconds ahead of Clint Bowyer, which was the closest recorded finish in Talladega history.
In 2012, Johnson was closer to the top and he finished third in the points, 40 points behind a champion Brad Keselowski and just one point behind a runner-up Clint Bowyer. Johnson won five times and added thirteen Top 5 finishes.
Johnson's first season's victory, at Darlington in May, was 200th Sprint Cup victory for Rick Hendrick's team. A week later, Johnson won the Sprint All-Star Race, matching Jeff Gordon and Dale Earnhardt with three wins. Later in the season, Jimmie won at Dover, Indianapolis, Martinsville and Texas. His win in the Brickyard 400 was fourth in a career.
Johnson grabbed sixth Sprint Cup title in 2013
The season of 2013, in which Johnson won his sixth title, started similar as 2006 season, with a victory in Daytona 500 races. In total, Jimmie scored six wins and won the title with a 19-point advantage over Matt Kenseth. After a season-opening victory at Daytona, he was victorious one more time on the same track, plus he scored victories at Martinsville, Pocono, Dover and Texas. Johnson also won the NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race, for the fourth time in a career.
Two seasons far from the top
After he entered the historic books with six titles, Johnson had statistically the worst season in his career in 2014. He finished 11th in the points, despite winning four races and he added sixteen Top 10 finishes. He was the winner at Charlotte, Dover, Michigan and Texas.
In 2015, Johnson won five times but it was enough for only the 10th place in the final standings. He was the winner two times at Texas Motor Speedway and also at Atlanta, Kansas and Dover. His second win in the AAA Texas 500 was the fourth consecutive win in the fall race at Texas. This was also his 75th Sprint Cup win in a career.
Jimmie won his seventh title in 2016
Johnson began the 2016 Sprint Cup season finishing 16th at the Daytona 500. In the next race at Atlanta Motor Speedway, he recorded his 76th win in a career, tying the late Dale Earnhardt for the seventh place on the all-time wins list. A few weeks later, Johnson won at Auto Club Speedway, increasing his number of Sprint Cup wins to 77.
After that, he was without wins for 24 races, which is his longest winless streak in a career. He started to win again during The Chase, collecting two wins at Charlotte Motor Speedway and Martinsville Speedway. His 80th win came at season's finale at Homestead-Miami, securing him the seventh title and a place in the NASCAR's history, next to Petty and Earnhardt.
Nations Cup winner at 2002 Race of Champions
As a stock car specialist, Jimmie Johnson didn't race much in other competitions, but when he appeared in different types of cars, he was also successful. In 2002, he was invited to compete in the Race of Champions at Gran Canaria. He was eliminated in the first round of the individual competition, but together with Jeff Gordon and Colin Edwards, he won the teams' championship. They were competing in various rally cars, such as Peugeot 206 WRC, Seat Cordoba WRC or Mitsubishi Lancer.
Johnson returned to the ROC in 2004 at Stade de France, together with Casey Mears as a teammate in the Team USA. At 2006 ROC, Johnson didn't start due to an injury he had just days before the race. His last ROC appearance was at 2007 ROC at Wembley Stadium, together with Travis Pastrana.
First Daytona 24h podium in a second attempt
In America's famous endurance race, Rolex 24 at Daytona, Jimmie Johnson debuted in 2004. He competed in the #4 Crawford-Chevrolet prototype of Howard-Boss Motorsports and he retired. His co-drivers were Butch Leitzinger, Elliot Forbes-Robinson and David Brule. Next year, Johnson, Leitzinger and Forbes-Robinson returned in the #4 Crawford-Pontiac. They finished second overall.
In 2007, Johnson competed in the 24-hour race alongside Jim Matthews, Marc Goossens and Ryan Hunter-Reay in the #91 Riley-Pontiac prototype, but they didn't finish the race. In June 2007, Johnson, Matthews and Goossens competed together in the 250-mile race at Daytona and they finished 9th.
One more podium at Daytona 24-hour race
In 2008, Johnson competed for the fourth time at Daytona 24h and scored his second podium. He was part of the #99 crew in the Gainsco/Bob Stallings Racing Riley-Pontiac, together with Alex Gurney, Jon Fogarty and Jim Vasser. They finished second. For his fifth appearance at Rolex 24 at Daytona, in 2009, Johnson again partnered Gurney, Fogarty and Vasser. This time, they finished seventh.
In 2010, Johnson competed in two races of the Grand-Am Rolex Series, at Daytona and Watkins Glen, both in the #99 Riley-Chevrolet of Gainsco/Bob Stallings Racing. The crew was the same as in previous years. They failed to finish Daytona 24h and finished sixth at Watkins Glen. Johnson's seventh and last Daytona 24-hour attempt was in 2011, still with #99 Riley prototype. Johnson, Fogarty and Gurney finished 15th overall.
Jimmie and his wife launched charity foundation
Besides motorsport, Jimmie Johnson is also involved in charity. The Jimmie Johnson Foundation was launched by Johnson and his wife, Chandra, in 2006. The foundation helps children, families and communities in need. One of the projects is an annual golf tournament in San Diego, that raised a total of eight million US$ to help several projects.