Drive for Five Complete, Now It’s Time for a Six Pack
Jimmie Johnson’s run of five straight NASCAR Sprint Cup titles will one day be appreciated for the historical feat that it is. While some wonder if Johnson’s domination of NASCAR’s Chase for the Championship is actually good for the sport, it can’t be disputed that it stands as the most significant NASCAR achievement of the last 20 years.
Athlon Sports: Racing has innumerable generational attachments, but it’s pretty rare for two brothers to get to the top. There must be something pretty remarkable in your parents. Is there anything in particular that you learned growing up that, you think, helped you and Kurt competitively?
NASCAR’s annual February pilgrimage to Daytona Beach for the 53rd Daytona 500 will be bittersweet for fans, competitors and officials, as this season’s event marks the 10-year anniversary of the death of the great Dale Earnhardt.
Earnhardt died in a last-lap accident in Turn 4 of the 2001 Daytona 500, as the cars he owned — those of Michael Waltrip and Dale Earnhardt Jr. — finished first and second.
The ensuing outpouring of emotion from a legion of NASCAR fans around the nation opened the eyes of many to the sport, and a boom period followed.
Before the 2010 football season started, Joe Dudek decided to do something radical with the running backs he coaches at Pinkerton Academy in Derry, N.H. Well, it wasn’t exactly extreme in terms of a normal ball-carrier’s world, but for Dudek it was pretty far out there.
He wanted them to block. Imagine that.
“I taught them how to block and graded them on blocking,” he says. “The biggest joke is that I never threw a block in my life.”
Tony Rice had a decision to make, and he had to make it in a hurry. Should he pitch the ball to tailback Mark Green, or should he hold on to it himself?
USC safety Mark Carrier had made the move to stop the option play, but now the All-America safety had his own decision to make. Should he take the pitch man, Green, or should he attempt to make the tackle on Rice? Carrier hesitated and left himself in no man’s land. Rice made him pay the ultimate price.
Deep among the hills of the Dominican Republic are a people so poor, so disregarded, they all but don’t exist. Of Haitian origin, they were enticed by offers of good jobs but instead were brought in to work the sugar fields and left to fend for themselves in slums known as bateyes. Men spend long days in the fields, looking for work, or in bars. Women, many just teenagers with little to no education, have multiple children, fathered by workers passing through.
Here he goes again, loading up the roster with a bunch of rookies and heading off in search of great things. He really has no idea how it’s going to work, because how do you teach a bunch of kids barely old enough to vote how to own the big time?
Johnson’s four consecutive NASCAR Sprint Cup championships are a feat never achieved in the 61-year history of the sport. Not by the sport’s king, Richard Petty. Not by the sport’s most beloved and ruthless competitor, Dale Earnhardt. And not by Johnson’s mentor and modern day NASCAR archetype, Jeff Gordon.
In fact, winning four titles consecutively in any professional league is almost unheard of in today’s sports landscape. But Johnson already has four in the bag, and is aiming — with deadly accuracy — at a fifth.