Jimmie Johnson Named Male Athlete Of The Year By The Associated Press
Four-Time NASCAR Sprint Cup Champion Becomes First Race Car Driver To Receive Award
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Dec. 21, 2009) -- The post-season honors keep piling up for Jimmie Johnson and once again, the four-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion is making history.
Johnson has been named the Male Athlete of the Year by members of The Associated Press becoming the first race car driver to win this prestigious award in the 78 years it has been presented.
Johnson made history this season when he became the first driver to win four consecutive NASCAR Sprint Cup titles, accomplishing a feat that the likes of Richard Petty, Dale Earnhardt, Darrell Waltrip and Cale Yarborough were unable to achieve. In 2009, Johnson won seven races, including four during NASCAR's "playoffs" -- the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup.
Johnson and the No. 48 Lowe's Chevrolet team at Hendrick Motorsports have elevated themselves to the "dynasty" level. And, taking into consideration that this award has been presented in the past to such superstars as Lance Armstrong, Tiger Woods, Michael Jordan, Joe Montana, Carl Lewis, Muhammad Ali, Sandy Koufax, Mickey Mantle, Willie Mays, Byron Nelson, Joe DiMaggio, Jesse Owens, and Joe Louis, it's safe to say that Johnson has etched his named alongside some of sports' greatest of all-time.
"We'd been wondering the last few years, 'When is this going to hit?'" Johnson told the Associated Press. "It seems like the answer is now. The wave is finally peaking and we don't know where it's going to take us. The fourth-straight title takes it out of our sport and makes it a point of discussion like, 'Wow, a race car driver won this thing.'"
Johnson received 42 votes from editors at U.S. newspapers which are members of the AP. Tennis star Roger Federer (30 votes) and Olympic gold medalist sprinter Usain Bolt (29) were the only other athletes with totals in the double-digits. Swimmer Michael Phelps, who won a record eight Olympic gold medals in the 2008 Beijing Games, was last year's recipient.