What started with a win in the Daytona 500 ended with the biggest win of all.
Contact on lap 74 left Johnson with left front fender damage but that didn’t stop him from rallying back to claim his sixth NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Championship.
Matt Kenseth led the most laps in Sunday’s finale but Johnson was never far behind. In the end, he would finish 19 points behind Johnson.
“There is nothing like this,” Johnson said in Victory Lane, choking back heartfelt emotions as he held his 3-year old daughter Genevieve and kissed his wife, Chandra.
“I have six, and we’ll see if I can get seven. Time will tell. I think we need to save the argument until I hang up the helmet, then it’s worth the argument. Let’s wait until I hang up the helmet until we really start thinking about this.”
Matt Kenseth proved to be a formidable championship contender all season long. In his first season in the No.20 car, Kenseth went to Victory Lane a total of seven times and finished second to Denny Hamlin at Homestead. If anything, losing this Championship will just make his 2014 campaign that much stronger.
“It was just unbelievable year for us, obviously we wanted to win the championship as good as we ran all year,” said Kenseth. “If Jimmie would have got a flat or something, that would have been all right. Never seen anything like this in the sport and probably never will again. … Maybe he’ll retire.”
Jimmie Johnson will no doubt go down in history as one of the best drivers the series has ever had. Will he stop at six Championships? Never.
For Johnson, this Championship win meant more than the others. For one, his family was able to celebrate in Victory Lane with him. His wife, his daughters, his father and friends made this victory just that much sweeter.
“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.”
Denny Hamlin won the Ford Ecoboost 400 lengthening his season win streak to 8 straight.
“Is the year over yet?” a grinning Hamlin asked in Victory Lane. “Man, I wanted to keep that streak alive.”
Rookie Ricky Stenhouse Jr. takes home the Rookie of the Year Award over Danica Patrick and Timmy Hill.
For the guys at Hendrick Motorsports, they won’t be slowing down anytime soon. Like Chad Knaus said to his driver over the radio as he crossed the finish line:
“You better get a sip of that (water) bottle, it’s the only healthy liquid you’re going to get all night.”