2016 has been a history-making year for the entire sport’s world. The Cleveland Cavaliers captured their first NBA championship in franchise history in June with the help of three-time champion Lebron James. Michael Phelps, the most decorated Olympian in history, swam his way to his 23rd Olympic gold medal at Rio in late July. The Chicago Cubs shocked the MLB world and ended a 108-year World Series championship drought in late October.
This weekend, NASCAR driver Jimmie Johnson has a shot at adding his name to the list of storied 2016 sport’s accomplishments.
Throughout NASCAR’s 68-year history, only two drivers have ever accomplished seven-career championships. That coveted spot, held by Dale Earnhardt and Richard Petty, has been a mark that most would think couldn’t ever be accomplished again – until Johnson came around. The El Cajon, CA native has accumulated six titles in the last decade, leaving him one race and one championship below that coveted seventh championship.
On Sunday, Johnson has a one-in-four shot at re-writing the history books.
“You know, I know it’s here,” said Johnson at a media event on Thursday. “I know that I’m as close to this opportunity as I’ve ever been, but I’m not climbing in that car Sunday saying, I’ve got to win seven. I’m saying, I’ve got to win a championship. It’s my own personal thing that I want to do.”
If Johnson is able to pull off No.7 on Sunday, he will join some very elite company. Petty and Earnhardt shine as two of the most successful competitors in the racing world, with their combined 14-career championships and 276-career victories. Johnson knows the importance and significance in potentially putting his name next to two of NASCAR’s greats.
“Of course I would love to tie them, without a doubt,” said Johnson. “And the question has been asked a lot, and we start each year, could this be the year, and as we’ve transferred through the rounds, I’ve had to answer the question, and it’s something that I guess I’ve learned to embrace, and I’m honored to have this opportunity, and it would be a massive honor to join Petty and Earnhardt, I mean, without a doubt. And I hope that I can do that some day. If it’s not this year, we’ll be back next year and we’re going to try again.”
Johnson will compete against Joey Logano, Carl Edwards, and last year’s champion Kyle Busch for the Sprint Cup title on Sunday. The four drivers will start the event with even points, meaning the highest finishing driver will take home the championship.
The 2016 sports’ season has been full of unforgettable history-making moments, and Johnson hopes to cap it all off on Sunday in Miami by hoisting a record-tying seventh career Sprint Cup championship trophy.