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Jimmie A Hero In Garages

| Managing Editor, RacinToday.com Sunday, November 22 2009
Jimmie Johnson is not lacking for respect in the garages. (Photo courtesy of NASCAR)

Jimmie Johnson is not lacking for respect in the garages. (Photo courtesy of NASCAR)

By Jim Pedley | Managing Editor

Jimmie Johnson may not be the most-respected driver among fans, but among his peers? Huge respect.

After winning his record fourth-straight Sprint Cup championship Sunday, drivers lined up to to testify in behalf of Johnson and his team.

“I can’t believe Jimmie did it,” Carl Edwards said. “It’s unreal. I really just believed that something would happen and Mark would be able to get him just because it’s so amazing the luck that they’ve had. I know it’s not all luck, but there’s luck that goes with it and they’ve had amazing performance and amazing luck and my hat’s off to them.”

Denny Hamlin, who won Sunday’s race and who flexed some serious muscle in the Chase, said, “Four in a row for them and I couldn’t be happier for him ( Johnson). There’s no more deserving champion than them.”

Jeff Gordon, a winner of four championships but not consecutively, said he never doubted his Hendrick Motorsports teammate’s talent. But still, four in a row is tough to believe.

“I never ever thought I’d see it done, to be honest with you,” Gordon said. “I think it’s absolutely incredible and I think it’s something that I don’t know if I’ll see in my lifetime ever happening again. But they’ve shown that it’s possible and they’ve also shown just how good they are and that’s why they’re where they’re at. It’s quite a feat.”

As seems to be pro forma in sports, Johnson declared after the race that his accomplishment and its historical importance had not yet sunk in.

It had sunk in for others in the garages.

“I remember hanging out with Jimmie in 2001 and sitting on his boat dock, just hanging out and drinking a beer,” Jamie McMurray said. “Both of us were just in awe that we were even in the Busch Series at the time, so for him to do what he has done is incredible.

“I will say that as much as he wins and everything happens, Jimmie’s one of those guys you want to hate, but he’s one of the best guys out here. I think that he is very

deserving of what he has.”

Not so surprisingly, Johnson also got a nod from his crew chief.

“He is an incredible, incredible driver,” Chad Knaus said. “He is the most underrated driver in the garages.”

– Jim Pedley can be reached at jpedley@racintoday.com

| Managing Editor, RacinToday.com Sunday, November 22 2009
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