Welcome to the club! Jimmie Johnson joins NASCAR’s most elite group by winning the Ford EcoBoost 400 and his seventh career Sprint Cup Series championship at Homestead-Miami Speedway on Sunday.
Johnson joins legends Dale Earnhardt Sr. and Richard Petty as the only three drivers to win seven career Sprint Cup Series championships- the most all time.
“It's big. It has a different meaning,” said Johnson. “The No. 7 has a very special place in my heart with Ricky Hendrick. As a lot of people know. For some reason I just felt good and calm today and things just kind of unfolded at the end for us. I know it was help from above. In my heart I wanted to believe it would happen. It has and I just can't believe it.”
Johnson started the race in the rear of the field due to an unapproved body modification, but was still able to methodically move his way up the leaderboard earning his first career victory at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
“Oh my gosh, there is no, no way on earth,” said Johnson. “Just beyond words. “Just didn't think the race was unfolding for us like we needed to do to be the champs, but we just kept our heads in the game. Chad called a great strategy, made some great adjustments for the short runs.
Luck came our way and we were able to win the race and win the championship.”
Johnson held off championship four contenders Carl Edwards, Joey Logano and defending champion Kyle Busch to capture the checkered flag. Logan finished the race in fourth position, while Busch placed sixth. Edwards finished the race 34th after he was involved in a late-race accident, which brought out the Red Flag on lap 259.
Johnson’s seventh title comes ten years after he earned his first Sprint Cup Series championship (2006). This victory brings Hendrick Motorsports another owner championship, adding two more trophies to their collection on the night.
Looking ahead to the 2017 season, it will be interesting to see if Johnson can become the first driver to win eight Sprint Cup Series championships.