Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

NASCAR SPRINT CUP; JUST A FOUR-MALITY with Little Drama, Johnson Wins His Fourth Sprint Cup Title in a Row

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

NASCAR SPRINT CUP; JUST A FOUR-MALITY with Little Drama, Johnson Wins His Fourth Sprint Cup Title in a Row

Article excerpt

Byline: DON COBLE

HOMESTEAD - One-by-one they came to pit road Sunday night after the Ford 400, all to shake hands and offer hugs. Of all the accolades waiting Jimmie Johnson for winning his fourth-consecutive championship, the show of support from fellow drivers perhaps was the most lasting.

Johnson has championship trophies, four of them to be exact. He has money. He has a place in racing history.

And he has the unbridled respect of his peers.

"He's not done yet," Mark Martin said after making his stop to hug Johnson in Victory Lane. "What they did was incredible."

The fact Johnson won the Chase for the Championship wasn't a surprise. He needed to finish in the top 25 to clinch, and he wound up fifth.

His race Sunday at the Homestead-Miami Speedway was a mirror image of the rest of the playoffs - and the regular season. He ran hard when he needed by leading the first nine laps. He stayed close to the front, running three- and four-wide at times to fight for position.

Johnson finished fifth without putting his championship hopes in danger to beat Martin by 141 points.

"History," Johnson yelled on his team radio after he crossed the finish line.

"I'm blown away by the things we've been able to accomplish in the last eight years. To love this sport like I do and respect the history like I do, to do something like this is extremely rewarding.

"I have blown away all my goals. I just wanted to win a race when I got to Cup."

Johnson only needed to finish in the top 25 to clinch. He finished fifth. Mark Martin wound up 141 points behind in second place. In the process, Martin tied Richard Petty and Bobby Allison as the only five-time series runner-up.

"I never left anything anywhere," Martin said. "I never left anything anywhere. We got beat. I didn't leave anything out there. My race team dug as hard as they could. We accomplished more than any other race team in the garage, except the [No. 48], and that ought to be enough.

"We made history in multiple ways. For me, it was incredible to have had a chance. We were the only team in the garage that had earned a chance at it. What the fans had done and the competitors have done means so much to me. …

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