We’re hitting the way back machine on this one.
Jimmie Johnson stands on the precipice of winning his sixth NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship – all of them have come in the Chase for the Sprint Cup format, introduced in 2004.
It seems hard to believe but there have been four Chases where Johnson didn’t win the title. The inaugural Chase in 2004 was one of them.
Johnson was one of the three drivers in with a shout at the 2004 crown. At the time, he hadn’t captured a Cup championship while Hendrick Motorsports teammate Jeff Gordon was seeking his fifth (he still is, nine years later).
Their biggest rival was Roush Racing’s Kurt Busch. Busch lost a wheel at one point in the race but didn’t make contact with the pit lane wall on pit in, which was a lucky break that allowed him to keep going.
As the race progressed, Busch had enough of a points gap in hand despite Johnson and Gordon’s attempts to close. Busch’s teammate Greg Biffle won with Johnson second, Gordon third and Busch fifth. That was enough to give the Las Vegas driver his first and thus far only NASCAR championship.
Allen Bestwick, Wally Dallenbach and the late Benny Parsons were on the call for NBC in the first Chase finale, Homestead, 2004.