Monday, July 08, 2013

COMMENTARY: Numbers Do Not Lie, Johnson Among NASCAR's All-Time Best

Greatness by the numbers
In the aftermath of Saturday night’s win in the Coke Zero 400 at Daytona International Speedway, Jimmie Johnson now has 64 career victories in 417 Sprint Cup Starts; a winning percentage of 15.3%.  

Amazingly, the debate still rages in some corners over whether Johnson is first-ballot Hall Of Fame material after his retirement from the sport. By the numbers, however, there is little need for debate. 

Compared to the greats of the sport, Johnson more than holds his own in terms of career winning percentage. In fact, a cursory stroll through the record books places the Hendrick Motorsports driver behind only two drivers in the entire history of the sport. 

The legendary “Silver Fox,” David Pearson is the all-time leader in career winning percentage, having won 105 of his 574 career races on what is now the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. That’s a phenomenal winning percentage of 18.2, placing him well above his closest pursuer and longtime rival, Richard Petty. 

Petty won a record 200 times in 1,184 career starts -- a 16.8 winning percentage – while en route to seven series championships and iconic status as the King of NASCAR. 

Johnson ranks third overall at 15.5%, followed by Cale Yarborough (83 wins in 560 starts/14.8%) and Ned Jarrett (50 wins in 352 starts/14.2%) Jeff Gordon ranks sixth overall and second among currently active drivers with 87 wins in 707 career starts (12.3%).  

Bobby Allison ( 85 wins in 718 starts/11.8%) and Dale Earnhardt, Sr. (76 wins in 676 starts/11.2% also won more than 10 percent of their career Cup Series starts, placing them seventh and eighth in this admittedly unscientific survey of drivers with lengthy careers and multiple multi-win seasons. 

Of the eight drivers listed, six are already enshrined in the NASCAR Hall Of Fame. Gordon is a veritable shoo-in when he eventually decides to hang up his helmet.  

With a sixth NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship looming realistically on the horizon for 2013 and the expectation of many more successful campaigns to come, it’s time to end the debate and give the Lowes Chevrolet driver his due as one of NASCAR’s all-time greatest drivers. 

To do anything less requires complete and willful ignorance of the facts.

24 comments:

  1. Anonymous3:11 PM

    Well Said Dave!!!

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  2. I personally don't like him as a driver but you can't deny his greatness.

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  3. Amen Dave how is there any debate that a guy who has the 3rd greatest amount of cup titles and is in the top 10 of career wins can not be a first ballot hall of famer is ludacris

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  4. Anonymous4:04 PM

    Thanks for the ammo to share with the Jimmie haters! Long Live The 48!

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  5. Anonymous4:38 PM

    All hail jimmy

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  6. Anonymous5:13 PM

    Only a 1 time (36 race) champion.

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  7. Sorry Dave. It's just not compelling to watch anymore. Isn't ironic that after massive growth through the 1990s and early 2000s the decline in market position and interest of the sport coincided with five championships. Now the recovery of the past two years seems to be waning. I listen with one ear on Sunday and to SXM90, but won't watch and surely won't invest in attending any time soon.

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    1. Why come on here and tell everyone u don't watch anymore?? Yeah ur right his 5 chips are the reason for the decline geez ur an idiot get lost

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  8. Sooooooo..... Are you trying to tell me that the guy that won 5 straight cups in a row, is also one of the best in the history of the sport?! Get right outta town with that!!!

    Sad, that you felt a need to even spend the time putting this together. I am a fan of motorsports. Believe it or not, I'm also a fan of several different drivers, in several different disciplines. Variety, is the spice of motorsports, and life too, I guess. But isn't accomplishment what drove us all here to begin with? Isn't it the greatness we are allowed to witness on an almost weekly basis, what keeps us here? To see the NEW TRACK RECORD!!!! that TV guys use as a crutch to get through qualifying? Records are made to be broken. The fastest ever, is just the fastest right now.

    I don't wake up on race day and say, If so and so doesn't win, I'm shutting off the tube. I wake up, and hope I am going to spend a good part of my weekend day, watching a bunch of guys, in a bunch of cars, I could only dream of driving, on a bunch of tracks, in a bunch of places, I could only dream of going to, and see a helluva show. Most times, they don't let me down. Whoever takes the checkers, good on em. I don't like to see some blatant move to get there first, but I understand it could happen. If I see history in the making, BONUS! Nowadays, everybody likes to daydream out loud about being at Yankee stadium and seeing the bombers, or watching Ted hold court over Fenway... This is NASCAR!!! And these are OUR books Jimmy is writing right now! Don't look at it as same ol same ol, look at it for what it is- History in the making.

    I yield the remainder of my time to the Gentleman from Barre, VT.

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  9. Robert G.9:13 PM

    Will admit he has done well. But not sure you can compare to previous drivers. Not sure that Jimmy would do as well without the support of HMS. The race a few years ago where he wrecked and had all hands on deck from HMS in the garage getting him fixed up.
    My uneducated opinion is that the teams were closer in capabilities and the driver made more of a difference.
    When was the last time a driver from a single car team was even challenging for the championship late in the season.
    I am not saying that you could put anyone else in the 48 and they would have done as well. Just saying that Jimmy (and others from multi-car teams) have an advantage that others don't have.

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    1. Then why is he the only Hendrick driver dominating? He is an all-time great. he best right now for sure. He's not as prolific at winning races like Gordon was in the 90's but much more consistent than the 24 .

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    2. So why do u think Kurt and kyle are better than jj ? Please Jimmie is better than everyone u listed. Haters gonna hate lol!

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  10. Anonymous10:29 PM

    No man is as blind as those that choose not to see. In other words, haters gonna hate.

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  11. Anonymous4:49 AM

    He's a good driver but without chad knaus-one of the best crew chiefs of all time he would probably have <30 wins. Imagine if Kurt or Kyle Busch had chad or Stewart or Gordon

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  12. Anonymous8:20 AM

    He's great because of one thing,money,boatloads of it!Put him in a Petty car (no insult intended) and see how well he does.

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  13. Anonymous12:45 PM

    should have an asterick after his name

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  14. Anonymous3:30 PM

    Forget winning percentage - if you ever wanted to know how talented a driver is just check out Jimmie's rookie stats ; 3 WINS, 4 poles, 21 top tens & 835 laps led (in 36 race season ) and finished 5th. In points. This kind of puts Danica Patricks rookie mediocrity in perspective, but that's a subject best left alone unless you wish to risk the wrath of the D. Patrick faithful.
    Or perhaps you might want to consider a statistic where JJ leads all drivers - % of laps led and career car earnings. Jimmie's 14,876 laps led out of 119,950 laps run (12.4 %!!) and over $125 Million in career car earnings certainly puts JJ number one all time in these categories!

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  15. Robert G.8:40 PM

    It is definitely not right to compare earnings of today to those of yesterday. And that is in every sport.

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  16. Anonymous11:12 PM

    There is no exact way to rate him against any of the great drivers of the past. The only driver who's name appears on the above list you can compare him against is Jeff Gordon because he has the same resources,team owner etc.

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    1. Anonymous12:14 PM

      No it is never possible to directly compare drivers performance from one era to another, but I personally think laps led ( % of race laps run) might indicate degree of dominance, with the exception of David Pearson who was notorious for trying only to lead the last lap. However take a look at the next best driver (Tony Stewart ) since JJ entered Sprint Cup full time in 2002. Tony has 36 wins, 3 championships while JJ has been in Sprint Cup (JJ has 64 wins, 5 championships ) & Jeff Gordon has only 29 wins and zero championships in the JJ era. The last decade has also featured more quality cars capable of winning (from equipment stand point ) than was the case historically.

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  17. I will be the first to admit that while I am not a 48 fan- I have to give mad props to what the team has achieved. For those who say that Jimmie would not be as good as he is if he didn't drive Hendrick equipment- you may be correct. But I also believe that Richard Petty would not have as many championships if he drove for someone other than the family business. It is all about getting the right team together and making it work. While it is hard to do an "apples to apples" comparison of the King and Jimmie Johnson becasue of the era in which each raced- you can't deny that teams that can achieve greatness on such a high level is very few and far between. While I stated I'm not particularly a Jimmie Johnson fan- I have to recognize that he is the best that this sport has seen in a long time.

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  18. Anonymous3:13 PM

    Dave moody, the great defender of jj and danica

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  19. Anonymous5:47 PM

    I'm surprised you didn't also mention his overall stats, from 2002 to 2012, with a 6th place in 2011 and a 5th place in 2005 his average, for 11 years is 2.45. Just incredible.

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