By admin | November 22, 2010
By Richard Allen
Anyone who has read even just a few pieces posted on this site should know that I am not a fan of NASCARâ€™s Chase for the Championship. However, like the Chase or not, the significance of Jimmie Johnsonâ€™s accomplishment of winning five consecutive titles cannot be discounted. This is clearly a feat that deserves a high ranking place in racing history.
The trouble is, how exactly should five championships be ranked in the annals of history? Because the reality of it is that the modern NASCAR Sprint Cup champion is determined by a ten race sprint run at the end of the season.
A driver only has to be good enough to rank in the top-12 in order to have a shot at the season title. That means a driver could have a somewhat mediocre first 26 races, barely make the Chase field and then get hot at the right time and be declared the season champion. For example, Carl Edwards did not win a single race coming into the Chase but got hot near the end and placed fourth overall. Had he had his act together just slightly earlier in the year he might have won the Sprint Cup after a season in which he was less than stellar in the first two-thirds.
But with that said, the same type thing can happen in the NFL. In 2005, the Pittsburgh Steelers finished second in their division and were the 6th seeded team in the AFC playoffs. They got hot at the right time and went on to win Super Bowl XL despite not being the best team over the course of the entire season.
Obviously, the key difference between the NFL and NASCAR when it comes to determining a champion is that the NFL has essentially used the playoff system forever while NASCAR only adopted it in 2004.
For the record, Johnson has scored enough points to have won the championship under the old system only two times out of his five, in 2006 and 2009.
Many fans, me being one of them, view racing as a season long grind rather than a regular season/post season type sport. So, with all of Johnsonâ€™s championships having come under the Chase format there is at least somewhat of a dispute as to the legitimacy of those titles.
Nonetheless, whether you are a fan of the Chase or a Chase hater, there can be no denying that Johnson and his Hendrick Motorsports crew have mastered the concept of out pointing everyone else under this format. They have learned how to play the game and they clearly do it better than everyone else.
It doesnâ€™t matter whether you regard Johnsonâ€™s championships as more or less significant than those achieved prior to 2004, winning five times in a row is a remarkable feat. I guess itâ€™s just too bad for his legacy that he doesnâ€™t play in the NFL.
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Here are other columns you may find interesting:
Johnson claims fifth title as rivals falter http://racingwithrich.com/?p=1318
Phoenix TV ratings show what fans think of modern NASCAR http://racingwithrich.com/?p=1315
Davenport scores impressive SAS finaleÂ victory in Cleveland http://tennesseeracer.com/?p=1274
For links to all sorts of dirt racing news http://dirtracinstation.blogspot.com/
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