Jimmie Johnson had a thrilling season this year, able to handedly win his fourth straight championship, a feat never before accomplished in NASCAR history. This record will stand for a long, long time. As Larry McReynolds said on SPEED, unless this team totally implodes, there is no reason they can’t go on to win a fifth, sixth, seventh, or eighth straight championship.
If he does win eight in a row though, I will be stocking up on non-perishables, because it will definitely signify the end of the world – Y2K or something. Actually, if he gets to seven in a row, NASCAR’s seemingly magic number… that’s 2012.
But, compared to Kyle Busch and Ron Hornaday, the Nationwide and Camping World Truck Series Champions, respectively, the season that garnered him his history-making fourth championship is remarkably unimpressive.
Let’s look at some stats:
Jimmie’s average finish was 11.1, something I doubt Paul Menard (average finish: 29) would call unimpressive. However, Kyle Busch’s Nationwide average was 6.4 and Ron Hornaday’s Camping World Truck average was also 6.4. In fact, of the Chase drivers, Jeff Gordon bettered Johnson with a 10.2.
Busch and Hornaday finished in the top-ten in all but 5 of the races in their season, while Johnson failed to finish in the top-ten in 12 Sprint Cup races… nearly one third of them.
Jimmie also cost me a fantasy championship - I picked him to win at Texas.
However, no matter the points system, the best team will rise to the top. The Truck Series and the Nationwide series still use the “classic” points system, and both still produced runaway championships. Ron Hornaday clinched his championship in the second-to-last race, and Kyle Busch only needed to start the last race to win his. Johnson’s lead was smaller, but still large enough that he had little pressure at Homestead.
There is nothing NASCAR could have done with the points system to make this year’s championship more exciting.
Now wait, before nagging me about the 2008 battle between Johnson and Carl Edwards, let me clarify my position:
Yes, the battle was closer, but because Edwards was nearly as good as Johnson, even winning 9 times to Johnson’s 8. Had Edwards not wrecked himself and the rest of the Roush fleet at Talladega, it would have been closer.
So what happened in 2009? Simply put, no one was as good as the 48 gang. No one could match Johnson well enough to have a nail-biting championship battle.
Trust me… if the Yankees were to play Bryant Park Little League, the Yankees would win, unless something was done to seriously handicap their talent. In order to keep the 48 team from winning the 2009 Championship, NASCAR would have had to break their legs.
Changing the math does nothing, except reward being sub-par.