Jimmie Johnson has received a wealth of accolades after winning his NASCAR record-tying seventh Cup series championship Sunday night, but those from his former teammate, Jeff Gordon, may be among the most profound.
Granted, Gordon has some inherent bias, as he spent 15 years as Johnson’s teammate at Hendrick Motorsports and was part-owner of his No. 48 Chevrolet team.
I truly believe he will get eight (titles) ... I don’t think he stops until he gets it.
Jeff Gordon on Jimmie Johnson
Even so, considering Gordon’s own accomplishments in the NASCAR record books as a four-time Cup champion himself, his comments can’t be taken lightly.
Winning seven is harder now
Gordon said many people have reminded him how NASCAR determines its champion has changed over the years and he agrees it may not be a fair comparison to look at Richard Petty and the late Dale Earnhardt, who also won seven Cup titles.
“What I can tell you is I think it’s harder to win seven now than back then. I look at the competition level, the Chase format, the variables and difficulty of getting from round to round,” Gordon said. “What (Johnson) is accomplishing may be more significant than what Richard and Dale achieved.
“I don’t know if this will ever be done again. I know we said that with Richard, we said that with Earnhardt. It is so hard to win these championships, and to see a guy like Jimmie Johnson, I think he’s already solidified himself as one of the all-time greats.
How about an eighth?
“But he set a mark that I don’t know will ever be touched, and he goes into legend category and beyond. And it couldn’t happen to a better guy or a better race car driver.”
Gordon also believes Johnson won’t stop until he claims the Cup series championship record.
“Now, I think the motivation turns into ‘I’ve tied the greats of Richard and Dale with seven, but I want to stand alone on my own with eight,’ ” Gordon said.
“I truly believe he will get eight. He will go for eight, and I don’t think he stops until he gets it.”