Analysis: Jimmie Johnson sped past his Hall of Fame contemporaries


Anytime Jimmie Johnson’s stats surface, the first accolade usually shown is the seven Cup Series championships that tie for most all-time alongside Richard Petty and Dale Earnhardt.

It’s the obvious primary number to display in front of the sports world, but Johnson’s illustrious career is far more than his championships.

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Racing alongside fellow NASCAR Hall of Famers Jeff Gordon, Tony Stewart, Matt Kenseth and Dale Earnhardt Jr. for over a decade, Johnson was the best of the bunch by a wide margin. Between Johnson’s first full-time season in the Cup Series in 2002 and 2017, the year the 48-year-old won his last Cup race, no one could touch the No. 48 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet and the dynamic duo of Johnson and crew chief Chad Knaus. Both Johnson and Knaus will be inducted into the Hall of Fame on Friday night.

DriverWinsTop fivesTop 10s
Jimmie Johnson83218341
Matt Kenseth38172305
Jeff Gordon35178287
Tony Stewart37148242
Dale Earnhardt Jr.21137239

Gordon’s 81 career poles rank third all-time in the Cup Series behind just Petty and David Pearson, and Gordon turned those front-row starts into victories 20 times (24.7 %). Johnson only tallied 36 pole awards in his career but took the No. 48 to Victory Lane from the top spot 15 times for a blistering 41.7% mark.

Stewart, Kenseth and Earnhardt Jr. all fall well below Johnson in that category, as Kenseth won four times from 20 pole positions (20%), Stewart won just twice from 15 poles (13.3%) and Dale Jr. never won a Cup race from his 15 times as polesitter.

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During that 2002-2017 span, Johnson won multiple races in every season. Gordon, Stewart and Kenseth each only had one victory in three different seasons in that time, while Earnhardt Jr. had four seasons with a single trip to the winner’s circle. All four had winless seasons in this era as well, with Gordon’s coming in 2008 and 2010, Stewart in 2014 and 2015, Kenseth in 2008, 2010 and 2014, and Earnhardt Jr. in 2007, 2009-2011, 2013 and 2017.

The era of Johnson’s dominance saw him compete against nine Hall of Famers altogether as Rusty Wallace, Bobby Labonte, Terry Labonte and Mark Martin challenged the seven-time champ on a weekly basis in his career.

No one questioned Johnson’s worthiness of a spot in the Hall of Fame, and the numbers corroborate how great driver No. 48 truly was to earn him a spot in NASCAR’s pantheon.

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