All hail Hendrick Motorsports

by Monte Dutton

All hail Hendrick Motorsports

Among the historically significant achievements of Jimmie Johnson, crew chief Chad Knaus and Hendrick Motorsports:

• Johnson’s fourth straight championship was the record-tying ninth by Hendrick Motorsports. Owner Rick Hendrick has won nine of the past 15, tying him with Petty Enterprises.

• In all-time championships in major American sports leagues, the rankings are: 1) New York Yankees, 27; 2) Montreal Canadiens, 24; 3) Boston Celtics, 17; 4) Los Angeles Lakers, 15; 5) Toronto Maple Leafs, 13; 6) Green Bay Packers, 12; 7) Detroit Red Wings, 11; and 8) St. Louis Cardinals, 10. Tied with nine are Hendrick, Petty Enterprises, the Chicago Bears and Oakland Athletics.

• Knaus is the only crew chief ever to win more than two consecutive (now) Sprint Cup titles, and his overall championship total (4) ties him with Kirk Shelmerdine for second place all-time. Dale Inman won eight championships.

• Hendrick Motorsports has won four straight titles once before. In the 1990s, drivers Jeff Gordon (1995, ’97-98) and Terry Labonte (1996) won four straight titles for Hendrick. No other team has ever won more than three straight.

• Hendrick, the Yankees and the Canadiens are the only teams in any of the major American professional-sports leagues to win four or more consecutive championships more than once.

• Hendrick drivers Johnson, Mark Martin and Jeff Gordon took the top three spots in the Sprint Cup standings. That’s never happened before.

• Hendrick has won nine championships since its inception in 1984, amassing a winning percentage of .346. That’s the best in American sports history, ahead of the Celtics (.266) and the Yankees (.255).

• Since 1984, no other American professional sports team has earned as many championships as Hendrick’s nine. The Chicago Bulls won six championships during that span, followed by the Yankees and Edmonton Oilers (NHL) with five each.

• Hendrick has won at least one Cup race in 24 straight seasons (1986-2009). The streak began on Feb. 16, 1986, with Geoff Bodine’s Daytona 500 victory.

Monte Dutton has covered motorsports for The Gaston (NC) Gazette since 1993. He was named writer of the year by the National Motorsports Press Association in 2008.

His blog NASCAR This Week (nascar.rbma. com) features all of his reporting on racing, roots music and life on the road. E-mail Monte at (c) 2009 King Features Syndicate