Denny Hamlin crossed the finish line in first place at the Ford EcoBoost 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup race on Sunday at Homestead-Miami Speedway, but it was Jimmie Johnson who stole the show by winning his 6th NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Championship in eight years, making him one of the most successful competitors in the history of the sport. Johnson only needed to finish above the 23rd spot to win the championship, and with his only challenge being brief contact with Matt Kenseth following a restart, which put him back in the field, Johnson finished the race in 9th place, beating Kenseth to the Championship title by 19 points.
Driving for Joe Gibbs Racing, Kenseth led for 144 laps of the 267 lap race, finishing the race a close second to teammate Denny Hamlin. Having suffered a fractured vertebra earlier this year, which kept him out of action for more than a month, Hamlin’s victory on Sunday was especially sweet. In a post-race interview, Hamlin noted that racing during the ‘Jimmie Johnson era’ was unfortunate for competitors as Johnson was, in his opinion, the best that there ever was.
Statistics reinforce this viewpoint as Johnson is the youngest driver to win six Sprint Cup Champion titles, beating Richard Petty by 83 days. His record of six titles in the space of eight years is a first in the sport, and his 66 Sprint Cup victories since 2002 put him 30 wins above any other driver in the last eleven years. His crew chief Chad Kraus has a record of 62 wins, all of which have been with Johnson.
Jeff Gordon can be credited for introducing Johnson to Hendrick Motorsports and the Sprint Cup series. He discovered Johnson racing in the Nationwide Series in 2001 and persuaded Rick Hendrick to hire him. Gordon was quoted as saying that as a team – Johnson, Kraus and Hendrick Motorsports – they are “unbelievable”. Many would agree!
The top five places in the 2013 NASCAR Sprint Cup Championship went to (in order) Jimmie Johnson, Matt Kenseth, Kevin Harvick, Kyle Busch and Dale Earnhardt Jr.
Sebastian Vettel’s flawless win at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix this past weekend was his seventh consecutive victory for the 2013 Formula One season, putting the German driver on a par with Michael Schumacher’s record of seven consecutive victories set in 2004. Driving for Red Bull Racing-Renault, Vettel has clocked up eleven wins this season, and with two more races to go in the 2013 Formula 1 series – United States and Brazil – Vettel still has the opportunity to break that record. Teammate Mark Webber took second place, followed by Nico Rosberg, Romain Grosjean and Fernando Alonso in the top five positions. The top five in points for the season are (in order): Sebastian Vettel (347 points); Fernando Alonso (217 points); Kimi Räikkönen (183 points); Lewis Hamilton (175 points) and Mark Webber (166 points).
Born in Heppenheim, Germany, Sebastian Vettel started karting at the age of three-and-a-half, beginning his racing career in karts series at the age of eight. His talent was immediately evident and at the age of eleven he was accepted into the Red Bull Junior Team. From there he moved to open-wheel cars, winning the 2004 German Formula BMW Championship, winning 18 of his 20 starts. In 2005 Vettel moved into the Formula 3 Euro Series, going on to test for the BMW Sauber team.
In 2006, Vettel became the third driver for BMW Sauber at the 2006 Turkish Grand Prix, and in 2007 was confirmed as BMW’s test driver for 2007. He substituted for Robert Kubica in the United States Grand Prix, earning his first World Championship point by finishing in eighth position. In 2007, Vettel moved to Red Bull’s Scuderia Toro Rosso team, enjoying a reasonably successful season apart from an accident in the Japanese Grand Prix for which he received a penalty, which was later lifted when it was determined that Lewis Hamilton had caused the wreck.
Highlights of the 2008 season included Vettel becoming the youngest driver (21 years and 74 days old) in history to win an F1 Grand Prix when he took the checkered flag in the 2008 Italian Grand Prix, and being named Rookie of the Year at the Autosport Awards. In 2009, Vettel replaced retiree David Coulthard at Red Bull Racing and became the youngest Grand Prix driver to win for two different teams when he won the Chinese Grand Prix in April of that year. The following years saw Vettel claim a number of victories, with the 2013 season being his best yet. Fans will no doubt be keen to see how the final races of the season pan out.