Johnson's Own Version of 'The King and I'

Richard Petty

Jimmie Johnson's victory Sunday at Dover was his eighth at the track, breaking a tie with Richard Petty and Bobby Allison for most wins there. (Photo: Getty Images)

The accomplishment was so meaningful that instead of calculating his place in the points after taking the checkered flag Sunday, Jimmie Johnson thought about what he had achieved.

Johnson’s eighth career victory at Dover International Speedway made him the track’s all-time winningest driver, breaking a tie with Hall of Famers Richard Petty and Bobby Allison.

“I’m not sure that I’ve done anything that Richard Petty hasn’t,’’ said Johnson, who trails series leader Matt Kenseth by eight points heading into this weekend’s race at Kansas Speedway.

No one will match many of Petty’s marks from his 200 victories and 123 poles to his 555 top-five finishes and 1,185 Cup starts, but Johnson has been tugging at the cape of the sport’s superman.

Sunday wasn’t the first time Johnson has done something Petty hasn’t. It’s another sign of Johnson’s Hall of Fame career and how he ranks among the sport’s greatest drivers.

Consider what Johnson has accomplished that Petty didn’t.

  • Johnson won five consecutive series titles. Petty won four in a five-year period.
  • Johnson is tied for the most wins at Charlotte Motor Speedway with six victories. Petty has five wins there.
  • Johnson’s first Cup win came in his 16th start. Petty’s came in his 35th start.
  • Johnson’s 10th Cup victory came in his 95th start. Petty’s came in his 152nd start.
  • Johnson’s 20th Cup victory came in his 150th start. Petty’s came in his 184th start.
  • Johnson’s 30th Cup victory came in his 215th career start. Petty’s came in his 241st start.
  • Johnson’s 40th Cup victory came in his 254th career start. Petty’s came in his 291st start.
  • Johnson’s 50h Cup victory came in his 296th career start. Petty’s came in his 338th start.

Certainly others have reached some of these victory milestones quicker than both Johnson and Petty - most notably Jeff Gordon.

The point is that for all the accolades Johnson receives for what he did Sunday, he’s been doing it in other areas in recent years. That’s not to say Johnson is better than Petty - that’s a debate saved for a long rain delay or the offseason - but it’s just a reminder of how Johnson is climbing NASCAR’s ranks and redefining the sport. 

Will Johnson ever top Petty? It’s doubtful many could see that happening even if Johnson exceeds Petty’s seven championships and seven Daytona 500s. 

There will be always be one King in NASCAR, but his court is expanding and it includes a Californian racing for his sixth title this year.  

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