San Diegan Set to Tie NASCAR Record


No.  That is not a misprint in the title.  The current King of NASCAR is from San Diego. El Cajon to be more specific.  Who knew that San Diego was such a hotbed for racecar athletes.  I guess I should have known when I wrote a recent post about all of the other professional athletes that grew up in San Diego.

Who is this King of NASCAR? His name is Jimmie Johnson.  Like me, you may have heard his name mentioned in the news over the past couple years but don’t know much about him if you haven’t followed NASCAR. So, here is a primer about our fellow San Diegan, who is the king of our nation’s 2nd most popular sport to watch on TV, following NFL football.

Jimmie Johnson was born in El Cajon and attended Granite Hills High School.  Since his rookie season (2002), Johnson has finished in the top 5 in ‘points’ for the NASCAR Championship every year.  He has won the NASCAR Championship the past two years.  Now Johnson is on track to win his third straight Championship, which so far has only been achieved by one other NASCAR driver in history back in the 1970′s. (Geez, I didn’t know NASCAR has been around that long.)

There are 26 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races that determines who can compete for the NASCAR Championship during the final 10 races of the NASCAR Season. The NASCAR Chase for the Championship consists of the top 12 drivers entering the final 10 races.  With only six races remaining, Jimmie Johnson currently sits atop the leaderboard and is the odds on favorite to win his third Cup.

So, if you are like me and may have a spark of interest now in following our fellow San Diegan, then question is when to cheer for him.  When watching ESPN sports news, it seems like there is a NASCAR race every day of the week. Well, it turns out there are several different NASCAR Series.  It also turns out, the NASCAR drivers compete in multiple Series. (There is apparently a bit of controversy that surrounds that.) You will hear many of the well known names competing in NASCAR races that are part of the NASCAR Nationwide Series. The top level one where all of the money is made is the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, which frequently takes place the following day on the same race track as the Nationwide Series. Wikipedia has a nice write-up on the difference between the Sprint Cup and Nationwide Series, as well as the controversy related to drivers competing in both.

To follow the progress of Jimmie Johnson in these final six races as he attempts to tie the long-held NASCAR record, visit the NASCAR Sprint Cup web site where you will find the current standings and upcoming TV schedule. With the exception of this afternoon’s race, the rest of the races will take place on Sundays and all can be see on ABC.

You can learn more about Jimmie Johnson and read his bio on the NASCAR web site. He certainly appears to be a good guy.  He and his wife (sorry ladies, but he is taken) started a foundation to help children and families nationwide.  Among the groups they have supported is San Diego’s Habitat for Humanity.

So, if you’ve never followed NASCAR, now’s a good time to check it out while cheering for a fellow San Diegan.  Go Jimmie Johnson!

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