NASCAR.com's Kenny Bruce compares Jimmie Johnson to the 'Intimidator' RELATED: Johnson wins at Dover for 10th time The greatest NASCAR driver of all time is … Jimmie Johnson ? That's the word on the street, or in this case the voice on the radio, and since the bluegrass channel was on a commercial break I decided to stick around long enough to hear how that particular conclusion was reached. Such comparisons are inevitable – it's the sort of thing that arises when one is chasing legends. No different than when Jeff Gordon was piling up victories and championships in pursuit of Richard Petty and Dale Earnhardt. No different than when Earnhardt was piling up victories and championships in pursuit of Petty. And no different than when Petty began piling up wins and titles on his way to overtaking a host of former champions, including his father, Lee, the first to win three NASCAR premier series championships. What the 39-year-old Johnson has managed to accomplish in little more than 13 full seasons in NASCAR's Sprint Cup Series certainly puts him in the same league with Petty and Earnhardt, NASCAR's only seven-time champions. There's no doubt that Johnson, fit and trim and now only two wins away from matching Earnhardt's career win total of 76 victories, is one of the sport's greatest drivers. But is he No. 1? From a numbers standpoint, the Hendrick Motorsports driver will undoubtedly surpass Earnhardt's win total, and it's likely he'll eventually capture a seventh championship. He could, in fact, become the first driver to win more than seven titles. That would make him the most successful driver from a championship standpoint (neither he nor anyone else will come close to Petty's mark of 200 career wins), but will that make him NASCAR's greatest driver? No. That designation, without question, belongs to Earnhardt. Statistics are a great way to gauge success. But it takes more than numbers to measure greatness. Johnson has managed to excel during what some claim is the most competitive era in the history of NASCAR. Yes, there are more winners, on average, today. But there are also more races on the schedule, thus also more opportunities. A larger number of teams run the full schedule today, although that doesn't necessarily mean there are more "better" teams competing. Earnhardt never ran a season consisting of 36 points races; Johnson's never run in fewer than 36. Earnhardt never had the opportunity to compete at Kansas, Chicago or Kentucky; but by the same token, Johnson never raced at North Wilkesboro or Riverside. I have a strong feeling both could have won at those tracks given the chance. I'll argue that the talent pool Earnhardt often faced was just as deep – with lineups including drivers such as Petty and Darrell Waltrip, Bobby Allison, Cale Yarborough, Buddy Baker, Neil Bonnett, Geoff Bodine and Harry Gant. Eventually Bill Elliott , Dale Jarrett and Rusty Wallace, Davey Allison, Alan Kulwicki, Tim Richmond and others took their place. Most were champions; many are already members of the NASCAR Hall of Fame. Johnson is one of the greatest drivers that today's fans will ever see. What he has done has been nothing short of amazing. If one wants to argue that he would not have won 74 races and six championships had it not been for Hendrick Motorsports and Chad Knaus, the same could be said of Earnhardt, who owed much of his success to Richard Childress Racing and the talented group he worked with there. But what elevates Earnhardt above the rest is more than the fact that he was so successful. He provided fans with some of the sport's most memorable moments during his two-plus decades. Among them: winning the pole at Watkins Glen in '96 (and setting the track qualifying record, to boot) just two weeks after suffering a broken collarbone and sternum in a vicious crash at Talladega; climbing from his damaged car and into the ambulance, only to quickly exit and return to his car once he realized it would still run, at Daytona in '97; his first and only Daytona 500 victory the following season, a win that erased 19 years of heartbreak. There was the "rattle his cage" incident with Terry Labonte en route to victory in the night race at Bristol in '99; the wrongly-termed but aptly promoted "pass in the grass" on his way to winning the 1997 All-Star Race at Charlotte Motor Speedway ; and the charge from 18th to first in the final five laps of the 2000 Winston 500 at Talladega Superspeedway . For two decades, greatness drove a Chevrolet and it carried the number 3. They were memorable moments that elevated the sport and defined the man. Johnson can win more races and win more championships, but he can't match that. He needn't worry – no one else can, either. FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Matthew Strickert and Kenny Bruce discuss the fast speed of Michigan International Speedway and pick which drivers could possibly hoist the trophy in the Quicken Loans 400.
See what's coming this week to NASCAR.com Here's what you'll see on NASCAR.com this week: MONDAY: Martin Truex Jr . didn't win at Michigan, but he accomplished something last done by Richard Petty in 1969. Zack Albert will have more on that story from the Irish Hills. ... @nascarcasm recaps the race in pictures, as only he can. ... The Rundown covers where every driver finished, and why. TUESDAY: Earnhardt Jr. finished second at Michigan and talks to senior writer Kenny Bruce about his plans for the Chase. ... With the off-week upon us, we're starting to look ahead to project the Chase field. ... Wonder what Kurt Busch 's Facebook page might look like after a win? @nascarcasm has you covered. WEDNESDAY: Check out which paint schemes will be on display at this weekend at Iowa and Chicagoland, which host the Camping World Truck Series and XFINITY Series, respectively. ... Senior writer Kenny Bruce gets you caught up on all competition aspects of the sport with his weekly Tech Talk story. THURSDAY: The U.S. Open begins today, which got us at NASCAR.com thinking ... if NASCAR had four majors, which races would make up that grouping? We'll have more on this concept. ... Senior writer Holly Cain previews the NBC race coverage team in advance of the network's return to covering the sport at Daytona. FRIDAY: There are five on-track events, and we'll cover them all, starting at 11 a.m. ET with Camping World Truck Series practice and culminating later in the evening with the Truck Series race at 8:30 p.m. ET. We'll also have eight of the best tweets that you may have missed from the previous week. Also coming this week: We'll recap the entire Michigan weekend in GIF form, a fun way to look back at the top moments from the track. ... How do Kyle Busch 's Chase chances look? We'll update our Chase Watcher for the Joe Gibbs Racing driver. ... Father's Day is Sunday, which means we'll have plenty of pictures of drivers with their dads ... and drivers with their kids.
See what's coming this week to NASCAR.com Here's what you'll see on NASCAR.com this week: MONDAY: Can't get enough Coca-Cola 600 coverage? George Winkler and Kenny Bruce have you covered with extensive reporting on NASCAR's longest race. ... @nascarcasm dreams up what drivers would tweet to President Obama, now that he has a personal account on Twitter. TUESDAY: Look for Power Rankings presented by John Deere to get another shakeup this week. Who would you vote for No. 1? Make sure to tell us in the comments section. Senior writer Kenny Bruce takes a deep dive into what actually goes on during a rookie meeting, and how that has changed over time. Plus, check out @nascarcasm's always-hilarious photo recap of the Coca-Cola 600 WEDNESDAY: Check out which paint schemes will be on display at Dover International Speedway this weekend for the FedEx 400 benefiting Autism Speaks . Plus, learn more about the history of Dover in our track photo gallery. High 5, which drops every Wednesday at noon ET, will bring some of the best NASCAR-related content from around the web. THURSDAY: It's a tripleheader at Dover, so trucks are on track for 145 minutes -- NASCAR.com has you covered with a live leaderboard. Senior writer Holly Cain will feature how Catwalk for a Cause has become so near and dear to Martin Truex Jr . Speaking of Truex, Dover is his home track, and we'll look back on his first career win at the 1-mile concrete oval. FRIDAY: There are six on-track events, and we'll cover them all, starting at 10 a.m. with XFINITY Series practice and culminating later in the evening with the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race. We'll also have eight of the best tweets that you may have missed from the previous week. Also coming this week: We'll recap the entire Charlotte weekend in GIF form, a fun way to look back at the top moments from CMS ... Dover is known for its unique trophy -- check out it, along with some of the others from across the sport ... Kenny Bruce hits all the high notes from a technical perspective on Wednesday in Tech Talk ... Thursday's Driver Reports will forecast who should be favored at the Monster Mile.
See what's coming this week to NASCAR.com Here's what you'll see on NASCAR.com this week: MONDAY: Kevin Harvick couldn't quite catch Denny Hamlin in Saturday's All-Star Race. The Stewart-Haas Racing driver says he was not frustrated by finishing second, and looks ahead to the Coca-Cola 600 . ... @nascarcasm recaps the race in photos, as only he can, and Weekend in GIFs will allow you to relive the action in a fun way. TUESDAY: Power Rankings presented by John Deere got another shakeup this week -- yes, there's a new No. 1. Who do you think it is? Plus, check out Denny Hamlin 's imaginary Facebook page created by @nascarcasm. Senior writer Holly Cain features "Catwalk for a Cause," the annual charity event Martin Truex Jr . and girlfriend Sherry Pollex held last week. WEDNESDAY: Check out which paint schemes will be on display at Charlotte Motor Speedway for the Coca-Cola 600 . Plus, learn more about the history of CMS in our track photo gallery. And stay plugged in to NASCAR.com throughout the day as the Hall of Fame Class of 2016 is selected. THURSDAY: Cars are on track at Charlotte, and we'll have live leaderboards for you to follow. In honor of Throwback Thursday, we'll look back at Dale Earnhardt's first ever premier series win -- which came 40 years ago, at Charlotte. Brad Norman and George Winkler debate whether the annual 600-mile event needs to be shortened. FRIDAY: Coming out of the All-Star break, NASCAR.com presents some of its superlatives from the season so far. Also coming this week: Senior writer Kenny Bruce reports following his visit to the HScott Motorsports shop in Spartanburg, South Carolina ... the High Heel Dash (yes, you read that correctly) is Thursday, and we're previewing the event -- and who's in it -- on Tuesday ... High 5 (Wednesday) gives you some of the best NASCAR-related content from throughout the week, while Friday's Driver Reports clues you in on who has the best chance to win at Charlotte.
See what's coming this week to NASCAR.com Here's what you'll see on NASCAR.com this week: MONDAY: Pocono may be behind us, but we'll take a look at every driver in the field and explain why they finished where they did. @nascarcasm recaps the race in photo form, and senior writer Kenny Bruce previews a pair of events for later this week: Tuesday's appeal by the No. 48 team and Wednesday's open test at Darlington. TUESDAY: Look for Power Rankings presented by John Deere to get another shakeup this week. Does finally getting in the win column elevate Martin Truex Jr . to the top? NASCAR.com will also cover the appeal from Jimmie Johnson 's team, plus feature the exceptional pit crew of Carl Edwards ' No. 19 group. WEDNESDAY: Check out which paint schemes will be on display at this weekend. We'll also have a staff debate about whether or not Martin Truex Jr . is a title contender. THURSDAY: Driver Reports analyzes which drivers have the best shot to win at Michigan. Our #TBT piece takes a look back at Dale Earnhardt Jr . conquering the 2-mile oval to break a pair of long winless skids. FRIDAY: There are four on-track events, and we'll cover them all, starting at 11:30 a.m. (ET) with Sprint Cup Series practice and culminating later in the evening with the Sprint Cup qualifying. In between, there are a pair of XFINITY Series practices. We'll also have eight of the best tweets that you may have missed from the previous week. Also coming this week: We'll recap the entire Pocono weekend in GIF form, a fun way to look back at the top moments from the track ... @nascarcasm will have a mockup of Martin Truex Jr .'s Facebook page after Sunday's win ... gone to a race this year, and got all decked out? See if you make the cut in our gallery of the best fan photos of the year.
His first win at Dover was also the last for Dale Earnhardt, Inc. This weekend, the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series heads to Dover International Speedway and for Martin Truex Jr ., it's a return to a site of one of his greatest triumphs. A native of New Jersey, Truex considers Dover his home track, and in 2007, the then 26-year-old found some home cooking at the Monster Mile. Driving for Dale Earnhardt, Inc. in his second full-time premier series season after winning back-to-back titles in what was then called the NASCAR Busch Series, the closest Truex had previously come to a Cup victory was a second-place showing in the 2006 season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway . It all came together for Truex on a Monday afternoon, June 4, 2007 at Dover. Yes, that's right a Monday afternoon, after rain washed out the planned 400-lap event on Sunday. And the extra day wait was well worth it for Truex. Starting 26th in the field, Truex worked his way up and by Lap 125 he held the lead. All told Truex led 216 of the 400 laps, including 200 of the final 243 circuits to score his first career Sprint Cup victory by a stunning 7.355-second margin. His win was the deepest a victorious driver had started in the field at Dover since Tony Stewart in 2000 and has yet to be matched. "I remember everything about it," Truex said two weeks ago at Charlotte Motor Speedway during the Sprint All-Star Race weekend. "I mean it's like absolutely everything. I remember how practice went, what we did to the car, where we were. I remember the whole weekend. "It was a special day for sure. And to win there for me, that's my home track and it's like one of my favorites tracks so it was a big deal. We had a lot of friends and family there, too." Truex stayed hot in the coming weeks with a third-place finish at Pocono and a runner-up result at Michigan. He would go on to make the Chase that season as well. However, Truex's next win didn't come for 218 premier series races, until 2013 at Sonoma when he was driving for Michael Waltrip Racing . "Honestly when we won that race we thought we were going to start clicking them off," Truex said. "We had chances that year; that was a great year for us in '07. We were in position to win a bunch of races. A lot of times things went like they did last weekend (at Kansas). It was disappointing but we really felt like that season was our breakout season. Then things started to go downhill when things started to break apart (at DEI)." The win would be the last of 24 premier series victories for Dale Earnhardt, Inc., the race team founded by seven-time champion and NASCAR Hall of Famer Dale Earnhardt. The month before Truex's Dover win, Dale Earnhardt Jr . announced he was leaving the race team at the end of the season. Starting with the 2009 season, DEI merged with Chip Ganassi Racing to form Earnhardt Ganassi Racing, a partnership that lasted until the end of the 2013 season. The win also came on the same day that Bill France Jr., the son NASCAR founder Bill France Sr. and the father to current NASCAR Chairman and CEO Brian France, passed away at 74. --- NASCAR.com's Kenny Bruce contributed to this report FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
NASCAR.COM's Jonathan Merryman and Kenny Bruce break down a diverse set of nominees, whose careers practically span NASCAR's existence, as they are nominated into the NASCAR Hall of Fame Class of 2016.
Whittling list down to just five always a tough task
See what's coming this week to NASCAR.com Here's what you'll see on NASCAR.com this week: MONDAY: Continued coverage of Dale Earnhardt Jr .'s Talladega win, plus reaction from Jeff Gordon after another speeding penalty ruined his day. And on "Star Wars Day" @nascarcasm combines the iconic film franchise with NASCAR. TUESDAY: Expect Power Rankings presented by John Deere to get another shakeup this week -- how high will Junior rise? Plus, check out Dale Jr.'s imaginary Facebook page created by @nascarcasm, as well as fake texts between Junior and Tony Stewart following their Richmond run-in. Senior writer Kenny Bruce will report from Charlotte at an event with Jimmie Johnson , Chad Knaus, Rusty Wallace and Michael Waltrip . WEDNESDAY: Check out which paint schemes will be on display at Kansas Speedway . Senior writer Kenny Bruce will be at the NASCAR R&D Center for Richard Childress Racing 's final appeal. THURSDAY: In advance of the SpongeBob SquarePants 400, we take a look at what would happen if SpongeBob and NASCAR collided. Senior writer Holly Cain, who has covered both Dale Earnhardt Jr . and his father, has a column on Sunday's remarkable win. And to get you ready for Kansas, Driver Reports has a full breakdown on how the 16 drivers currently in the Chase Grid do at that track. FRIDAY: Get all the on-track action slated for Kansas throughout the day and evening, including a Truck Series race under the lights. We'll also catch you up on eight tweets you might have missed. Also coming this week: On Tuesday, Zack Albert will be on hand when the new NASCAR Next class is announced. Holly Cain writes about Carl Edwards ' frustrating Talladega finish. ... Check out a photo gallery Wednesday of NASCAR drivers and their mothers, in advance of Mother's Day. ... We'll preview Erik Jones first career Sprint Cup start, and look back on Joey Gase 's career-best XFINITY Series finish.