Fresh off of claiming his sixth Sprint Cup championship, a somewhat sleep-deprived Jimmie Johnson began his whirlwind media tour through New York City with a stop this morning on DirecTV and NBCSN’s “The Dan Patrick Show.”
Johnson, who won the title by 19 points over Matt Kenseth thanks to a ninth-place finish in Sunday’s season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway, indicated to Patrick that he was still in shock over his latest Cup crown – a thought that he tried hard not to think about as the season headed for its conclusion.
“It’s been a wild ride,” Johnson said. “I can’t believe it’s happened. For months, I’ve pushed this notion out of my mind and didn’t want to let it in, and now, I’ve got to open up my mind and let it in.”
With his sixth title in hand, the Hendrick Motorsports driver is now just one title away from equaling seven-time Cup champions Richard Petty and Dale Earnhardt.
Last night at Homestead, Johnson tried to stay out of the conversation over who is the best NASCAR driver of all time and said that the argument would truly begin when he hung up his helmet.
This morning, he continued to take that tack in his conversation with Patrick while additionally noting that he doesn’t know how he would’ve fared head-to-head against Petty and Earnhardt in their respective eras.
“They’re both extremely talented and dominated their eras and time,” Johnson said of The King and The Intimidator.
But in addition to being part of that racing-centric debate, Johnson and his achievements are now being stacked up against decorated champions from other sports, such as Michael Jordan in basketball and Joe Montana in football.
When Patrick asked Johnson about how his domination in racing compares to his stick-and-ball counterparts, Johnson chose to look at the similarities between the two sides.
“There are some elements that are similar but are hard to see,” Johnson said. “We do have that one-on-one battle that takes place between drivers on track, and there are things we can definitely do in the race car from a little physical contact, just getting into someone’s head and racing them real hard in getting by.
“But in the end, the win total is really what does it and also, those championships. There are some similarities if you dig in and think about it some. It’s there for sure.”