I’ve watched a lot of fantastic race car drivers and I’ve seen a lot of drivers come and go in the sport of NASCAR. Jimmie Johnson is, for me and for this era, the best driver to ever sit in a race car. With six titles in the last eight seasons, Johnson has cemented his status as the best driver in NASCAR’s most competitive era. But after winning his sixth NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship, one short of the record held by Richard (the King) Petty and Dale (the Intimidator) Earnhardt. The questions are now getting louder, is Johnson the greatest driver ever.
Eventually Johnson will get his seventh within the next few years, and maybe an eighth or a ninth, too. Maybe then it will become clear that Johnson is the greatest NASCAR driver who ever lived. A lot of NASCAR fans can’t handle that type of talk, of Johnson joining the stage with the sport’s icons who raced in a different era.
“It’s like taking somebody from the Olympics in the year 1900 and comparing them to somebody in the year 2000,” Petty said. “Everything has transferred so much. Everybody is in better shape. They’d blow that record away just because of time and records are made to be broken.”
They were all greats, and it’s practically impossible to compare their achievements. Petty and David Pearson won often in an era when it was common to win by multiple laps and NASCAR staged multiple races per week.
And Earnhardt’s seven titles and 76 career wins were stretched over a far longer span than Johnson’s success has been (he’s already within 10 wins of Earnhardt in 241 fewer starts). This was Johnson’s sixth title in 12 seasons; Earnhardt won his seven in 22 full-time seasons in a career cut short by his death on the last lap of the Daytona 500 in 2001.
Earnhardt, who more fans remember than Petty or Pearson because he drove more recently, will have plenty of supporters who would never dream of ranking Johnson ahead of the “Intimidator.”
Dale Earnhardt Jr. likely spoke for many Earnhardt fans when he evaluated Johnson’s place in history. “I’m biased,” Dale Earnhardt Jr. said frankly about where he would compare Johnson to his father and the other sport’s greats. “So he’s second. He’s one of them. … If Jimmie keeps on the track and the pace he’s on, he makes a much better argument for himself.”
Earnhardt also is a teammate of Johnson’s at Hendrick Motorsports. And he is not bothered at all by those comparisons, of putting Johnson in the same breath as his father and Petty. “I’m more surprised that comparisons took that long to start happening because the guy is good and the guy deserves all the credit that he gets and deserves to be in the conversation of one of the greatest drivers this sport has ever seen,” Earnhardt said. “Getting that sixth is just going to make him hungrier to get the next one, to be able to put himself up there with dad and Richard and he probably won’t quit until he gets an eighth.”
Johnson, with 66 wins, ranks eighth on the all-time Cup wins list behind Petty (200), Pearson (105), Jeff Gordon (88), Bobby Allison (84), Darrell Waltrip (84), Cale Yarborough (83) and Earnhardt (76). Pearson won 18.29 percent of his races, while Petty won 16.88 percent and Junior Johnson won 15.97 percent. Jimmie Johnson has won 15.21 percent. Earnhardt won in 11.24 percent of his Cup starts.
In Johnson’s short career he already compares with the top drivers ever. He has to be part of that (all-time best) conversation but each generation is going to think the other generation is better than the last generation or the next generation. It has always been that way.
But think about all of the things Johnson has to go through that most of the past legends didn’t have to worry about. The competition is different, with many more cars on the lead lap as parts and pieces have become so much more durable. The lifestyle is incredibly different, especially with sponsorship obligations and media scrutiny invading a driver’s personal space. And the points system is different as Johnson has won all of his races under the Chase for the Sprint Cup, and later a 10-race playoff, instead of the former system that consisted of total points over the entire season.
“I plan to savor every moment of the celebration and my championship reign,” Johnson said. “This is extremely sweet. I feel like those five years were a blur. And things happen so fast,” Johnson said. “It’s not that I didn’t enjoy it or appreciate it or respect what happened. It just went by so fast it seems like. Now, I’m really going to slow things down here and enjoy it. This is so, so sweet.”
Not as sweet as the future holds for Johnson. I’m not a psychic, but I find it hard to believe that thirty-eight years old Johnson won’t win at least two more championships. Then Johnson would pass Petty and Earnhardt on all-time list and maybe even in the heart of all NASCAR fans.
Boxer Gervonta Davis Involved in Minor Plane Crash, Documents Aftermath
Gervonta Davis just, miraculously, walked away from a plane crash relatively unscathed — and it sounds like what’s hurting him the most in the aftermath are his feet … and his caboose.
The professional boxer went live Saturday to document a terrifying encounter he says he and his crew had just gone through after boarding a private jet … which apparently failed to properly take off and crash landed back down to the airport grounds it was trying to leave.
Thankfully, it doesn’t appear the aircraft got very far up before coming back down to Earth — because Gervonta and other passengers seemed more or less okay … with their health and bodies intact.
That’s not to say Gervonta wasn’t feeling some hurt afterwards — on his live feed, he noted that his booty was aching like no other … this while he wrapped his feet in gauze. He’s pretty jovial about the whole thing, which is great to see, but this could’ve easily been way worse.
Gervonta also was able to get some shots of the downed plane, and it sure looks like something went wrong internally. There were also fire engines that showed up on the scene to evaluate the damage and tend to anyone’s injuries. Again, though, most everyone seems to be fine … which is absolutely incredible, because it appears there were even children aboard, based on a photo Gervonta posted shortly before getting on his flight. His video doesn’t capture any kids, though.
It’s unclear what exactly caused the malfunction — but you can hear Gervonta and his friends speculate on what happened … seems like there might’ve been some overheating of some sort. They also appear to be discussing some of the flight maneuvers the pilot(s) were using in the air … and the group seems to think that may have attributed to it going down.
Stay tuned while we here at Prestige try to get a hold of Gervonta’s team for more answers.
Tennis Player Coco Gauff Tests Positive For COVID-19, Will Not Attend Olympics
17-year-old tennis player Cori “Coco” Gauff was slated to be on the U.S. tennis team at the upcoming Olympic Games, but has withdrawn after testing positive for COVID-19.
She broke the news via social media.
“I am so disappointed to share the news that I have tested positive for COVID and won’t be able to play in the Olympic Games in Tokyo,” she wrote in a note. “It has always been a dream of mine to represent the USA at the Olympics, and I hope there will be many more chances for me to make this come true in the future.” At #25, Gauff is the youngest player with a Women’s Tennis Association ranking in the top 100 .
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At 15, Gauff shocked the sports world when she beat tennis icon Venus Williams in the opening round of Wimbledon in 2019. She then bested Williams again during her Australian Open debut in January 2020 and defeated Naomi Osaka at the same event.
Gauff finished her statement by wishing all of her fellow athletes well. “I want to wish TEAM USA best of luck and a safe game for every Olympian and the entire Olympic family.”
Magic’s Jonathan Isaac stands for national anthem as teammates, opponents kneel
Orlando Magic power forward Jonathan Isaac became the first NBA player to stand during the national anthem following the season restart … deciding against both kneeling and wearing a Black Lives Matter shirt.
The league’s coaches, refs and players — from LeBron James to Zion Williamson — have been using the anthem demonstrations to raise awareness as games pick back up in Orlando … a gesture that is being supported by NBA commish Adam Silver.
Isaac became the first player to choose to stand as the anthem was played before the Magic’s match-up with the Brooklyn Nets on Friday … while the rest of the team’s players and staffers took a knee.
It’s worth noting — Silver says everyone will have the option to kneel during the anthem without consequence … despite a league rule requiring players to stand.
The same goes for anyone who wishes to stand — no one is saying the players HAVE to kneel, either.
So far, Jonathan hasn’t commented on his decision to stand publicly — because the game is currently being played. But, when he does, we’ll update here.
Charles Barkley spoke about the demonstrations on Thursday during TNT’s “Inside The NBA,” saying, “The national anthem means different things to different people.”
“I’m glad these guys are unified. If people don’t kneel, they’re not a bad person. I want to make that perfectly clear. I’m glad they had unity, but if we have a guy who doesn’t want to kneel because the anthem means something to him, he should not be vilified.”
The Magic released a statement in support of the demonstration, saying, “The DeVos Family and the Orlando Magic organization fully supports Magic players who have chosen to leverage their professional platform to send a peaceful and powerful message condemning bigotry, racial injustice and the unwarranted use of violence by police, especially against people of color.”
“We are proud of the positive impact our players have made and join with them in the belief that sports can bring people together — bridging divides and promoting inclusion, equality, diversity and unity.”
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