|Birthdate:||September 17, 1975|
|Hometown:||El Cajon, Calif.|
|First Career Cup race:||October 7, 2001 (Charlotte)|
|Career Cup Poles:||36|
|Career Cup Wins:||83|
|Best Cup Championship Finish:||1st – 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2013, 2016|
In 2016, Jimmie Johnson claimed his seventh Cup Series championship – to tie the all-time record shared by NASCAR Hall of Famers Richard Petty and Dale Earnhardt. It was Johnson’s second title in four years, his first since 2013.
After leading the point standings for much of that season, Johnson opened his 2013 playoffs with top-five finishes in four of the first five races … including a victory at Dover. He closed with four top 10s over the final five weeks that included another victory, in Texas.
After entering the post-season as the No. 2 seed behind Matt Kenseth, Johnson came out of the 2013 season 19 points in front of his Joe Gibbs Racing rival.
The title was Johnson’s sixth in eight years. His remarkable streak of five straight Cup Series championships had come to an end in 2011 with a sixth-place finish. That season, Johnson earned the No. 6 seed for the post-season title series. A grinding crash in the Bank of America 500 in October at Charlotte Motor Speedway effectively ended Johnson’s bid for a sixth straight crown, saddling him with a 34th-place finish that sent Johnson tumbling to eighth in the standings.
The El Cajon, Calif., native started his career as an off-road racer and won championships in the Mickey Thompson Stadium Championship from 1992-94. He won the ASA ACDelco Challenge Series Rookie of the Year Award in 1998.
Johnson, with a limited number of stock car starts on his resume, was the third man in the 2000 Nationwide (now Xfinity) Series rookie invasion. He started 31 races and finished 10th in the point standings with six top-10 finishes.
Even though Johnson’s consistency was what earned him his point position, with 24 top-25 finishes and an average finish of 20th, the enduring image of him from 2000 was his crash through the Styrofoam blocks at Watkins Glen after a Turn 1 brake failure. Due to the great seasons by fellow rookies Kevin Harvick and Ron Hornaday, Johnson finished only third in the rookie of the year standings.
Johnson made his first three NASCAR Cup starts in 2001, the season in which he scored a breakthrough first NASCAR Xfinity Series victory in only his fourth season in stock cars while preparing to advance his career to the next level.
While he qualified an impressive 15th in his first start, at Charlotte Motor Speedway, Johnson’s best finish was only 25th, at Homestead. He primarily concentrated on maintaining his top-10 standing in the Xfinity Series point standings.
Under car owner Jeff Gordon, Johnson’s Cup rookie campaign in 2002 was one of the best in recent memory. He won three times, including a season sweep at Dover. His 21 top-10 finishes tied him with 2002 champion Tony Stewart for second in the series and he led the Cup standings following the Kansas race in late September.
Two finishes outside the top 30 in the final six races of the season helped take Johnson out of title contention, but he did manage to finish fifth in the final standings. He also finished second to Ryan Newman in the rookie of the year balloting.
In 2003, Johnson spent all 36 weeks in the NASCAR top 10, the only driver to do so, and finished second in series points. That season, he swept both events at New Hampshire and won the rain-shortened Coca-Cola 600 in May at Charlotte, one week after winning the All-Star race.
The bottom line of Johnson’s 2004 Cup season is that he and his Lowe’s Chevrolet teammates won eight races — the most of any team — and fell eight points short of a championship, nearly pulling off one of the most incredible comebacks in NASCAR history.
Johnson made up a 247-point deficit he faced after the fourth of the 10-race playoffs.
2006 was a year to remember for Johnson, who won the season-opening Daytona 500 and then went on to his first Cup Series championship. But it was anything but easy.
Johnson had to take on the biggest race of the year – the Daytona 500 – without his crew chief Chad Knaus, who was suspended for four races by NASCAR when the No. 48 Lowe’s Chevrolet didn’t pass post-qualifying inspection.
Johnson added another restrictor-plate win with a victory in the Aaron’s 499 at Talladega Superspeedway in April. He added another crown jewel victory to his racing resume in 2006 when he “kissed the bricks” at the famed Indianapolis Motor Speedway with a victory in the Brickyard 400.
Johnson’s Indy victory was especially impressive as he overcame an early-race flat tire and found himself a lap down to the field before rallying for the emotional victory.
After beginning the playoffs with finishes of 39th, 13th and 14th, Johnson suffered what looked to be a fatal blow at Talladega when he appeared headed for victory lane, only to be taken out of the race when teammate Brian Vickers made contact with him on the final lap. The racing world counted Johnson out of the playoffs at that point.
But from that disappointment, Johnson and company rose up and showed just what a championship-caliber team they were. Johnson reeled off a string of five straight races finishing first or second, punctuated by his fifth win of the year at Martinsville, to climb back on top of the standings heading into the season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
With a finish of 12th or better in the Ford 400 needed to lock up his first title, Johnson brought home yet another top-10 finish with a ninth-place run in the season-ending race.
In 2007, the driver of the No. 48 Chevrolet won 10 races on the year, including four straight in the playoffs, to clinch his second-consecutive Cup Series championship.
Johnson also posted an additional 14 top-10 finishes, 10 of which were within the top five. His finishing average in the playoffs was 5.0 and over the whole season was 10.8. He led laps in all but 12 races.
In the year that saw the debut of the “Car of Tomorrow”, Johnson and teammate Gordon combined to win half of the COT races and led a total of 1,325 laps in COT competition. They also had the best COT average finishes. Johnson’s COT finishing average was 6.9.
With his second straight championship, Johnson became the first driver to complete that feat since Gordon in 1997 and 1998.
But the following year, Johnson blew Gordon’s record away when he won his third straight Sprint Cup Series title in 2008. By doing so, he entered elite company as one of only two drivers to win three consecutive championships in NASCAR’s top division. Only Johnson and Cale Yarborough, who won championships from 1976 through 1978, have been able to turn the three-peat.
Johnson was able to hold off Carl Edwards as the 2008 Chase wound down to win the 2008 title by 69 points. In the season’s playoffs, Johnson collected three victories, six top-fives and eight top-10s and had an average finish of 5.7.
In 2008 Johnson had seven victories, 15 top-fives, 22 top-10s and an average finish of 10.5.
Many didn’t think it could be done, especially with his 31st season debut at Daytona and 24th-place finish at Las Vegas two races later, but Johnson scored a record fourth-straight NASCAR Cup Series championship in 2009.
The Hendrick Motorsports entry went to Victory Lane seven times in the historic season, including four times during the post-season, and Johnson knocked down 16 top fives and 24 top 10s on his way to a 141-point series win in the standings over teammate Mark Martin.
Johnson’s unbelievable reign continued in 2010 when the Hendrick Motorsports driver won his fifth consecutive Cup Series title.
But unlike Johnson’s four previous crowns, the 2010 effort was even more impressive because he had to do it in come-from-behind fashion.
Johnson trailed Denny Hamlin by 15 points heading into the Homestead-Miami Speedway season finale, but was able to erase that deficit and claim the title to become only the third driver in NASCAR history to come from behind in the last race of the year to win the championship. Petty and the late Alan Kulwicki were the only other two in NASCAR’s 62-year history to also accomplish the feat.
Johnson began the year winning three of the first five races. But the rest of the 26-race regular season wasn’t up to the lofty standards of the perrenial champion.
Johnson struggled and had a string of uncharacteristic finishes that kept him well in the championship hunt, but not near the top of the standings.
That all changed once the playoffs took the green flag, where, after a slow start in the post-season opener at New Hampshire, Johnson turned in one of his patented end-of-season performances that saw him finish in the top 10 the rest of the way.
Overall, Johnson scored six victories, including one during the playoffs, along with 17 top-five and 23 top-10 finishes.
In 2011, Johnson won at least one race for the 10th straight season. He totaled two victories and 19 other top-10 finishes in 36 starts en route to his sixth-place finish in points.
The wins came at Talladega Superspeedway in April and at Kansas Speedway in the fall, the fourth race of the post-season.
For 2012, Johnson took his bid for a sixth Cup Series championship right down to the last weekend of the season. But he failed to finish the Ford EcoBoost 400, saddled with 36th place in the official running order that sent Johnson sliding to third in the final playoff standings – 40 points behind champion Brad Keselowski and a single point behind runner-up Clint Bowyer.
Johnson’s total of five wins matched Keselowski for the series high. His victory in May at Darlington Raceway was the 200th points-paying Cup Series win for Hendrick Motorsports. Johnson’s other victories came at Dover, Indianapolis, Martinsville and Texas.
In 2014, Johnson extended his streak of post-season appearances to 11 straight years. He’s the only driver to qualify for the playoffs every year since the format debuted in 2004. But Johnson’s defense of his 2013 crown ended Oct. 19 with a 24th-place finish at Talladega Superspeedway that eliminated him from title contention.
He had race wins at Charlotte in May (when he started from the pole), Dover, Michigan and Texas; and was the No. 4 seed in the playoffs.
In 2015, Johnson once again qualified for the post-season Chase and finished 10th in the final standings. Scoring five wins in 2016, including the season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway, Johnson then tied Petty and Earnhardt with seven career NASCAR Championships.
In 2017, Johnson’s quest for another title would be different than in past years. With the introduction of stage racing in and a new points structure to determine where drivers ranked during the playoffs, he was optimistic that his team could adjust and conquer the enhanced race format.
Johnson’s season got off to a rocky start with a crash and a 34th-place finish at Daytona. That was followed by 19th in Atlanta and 11th at Las Vegas. It wasn’t until the fourth race of the season at Phoenix that Johnson finished in the top 10 and the seventh race of the year at Texas before his first top five.
That top-five finish was a big one.
After starting at the rear of the field, Johnson charged to the front and took the checkered flag – his seventh in “The Lone Star State.” With a playoff berth firmly in his grasp, Johnson went to Bristol the following week and scored the win there, as well, and added a third victory to his season tally five races later at Dover at the beginning of June.
The win at Dover, the 83rd of his career, tied him with Hall of Fame driver and a favorite of Johnson’s while growing up, Cale Yarborough.
Johnson’s 2017 season can be described at best as inconsistent. He ended with four top fives, 11 top 10s, 217 laps led and a 16.8 average finish.
Johnson experienced the toughest season in his Cup Series career in 2018 after going winless for the first time as a full-time driver that dates back to 2002.
In a year that saw his 17-year run with crew chief Chad Knaus and long-standing sponsor Lowe’s come to an end, Johnson posted career season low numbers in top fives (2), laps led (40) and final rank in the series standings (14th).