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Jimmie Johnson’s team defies era of parity in professional sports

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In an era of parity in professional sports, Jimmie Johnson’s seven NASCAR championships in 11 years ranks as among the most dominant dynasties in decades.

In one sense, it does seem a bit unusual to consider Johnson’s No. 48 Hendrick Motorsports team a dynasty when it has won only two of the last six Sprint Cup titles. Even that can nearly rank as a dynasty in this era among NFL, NBA, NHL and Major League Baseball teams.

The NFL has crowned eight consecutive different Super Bowl champions. The Chicago Cubs were the fourth consecutive different team to win the World Series. The NBA has had four consecutive different champions. The NHL has had three consecutive different champions.

Add Johnson’s five titles in a row from 2006-10 to the two he’s won since and his total of seven in just more than a decade makes a greater case for his team’s placement among sports dynasties.

The closest an NFL team has come to such dominance in the Super Bowl era was the Pittsburgh Steelers winning four Super Bowls from 1975-80.

11 Jun 1997: Michael Jordan #23 of the Chicago Bulls walks on the court during game five of the NBA Finals against the Utah Jazz at the Delta Center in Salt Lake City, Utah. The Bulls defeated the Jazz 90-88. Mandatory Credit: Brian Bahr /Allsport
Michael Jordan before game five of the 1997 NBA Finals against the Utah Jazz. Brian Bahr /Allsport

In the NBA, the Chicago Bulls won six of eight titles from 1991-98.  The only two years they didn’t win the championship was one season Michael Jordan missed playing baseball and another season where he didn’t return until late in the year. The Boston Celtics won a record eight in a row and 11 of 13 from 1957-69.

In Major League Baseball, one has to go back to the 1950s to find a team that won as many titles as Johnson in less time. The New York Yankees won seven championships from 1949-58. Two of the three years they didn’t win the title, the Yankees played in the World Series.

The NHL’s Montreal Canadiens won the Stanley Cup five consecutive years from 1956-60 and four consecutive times from 1976-79. The New York Islanders followed by winning four consecutive years from 1980-83.

For a more recent comparison, the Connecticut women’s basketball team comes close to Johnson with six titles in the past eight years, including four in a row.

College football could see the continuation of a dynasty with Alabama having won four of the last seven championships and ranked No. 1 this season.

Other sports or other divisions have longer streaks, but as time passes, Johnson’s stretch grows more impressive.

NASCAR America: Steve Letarte on challenges of avoiding speeding penalites

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NBC Sports analysts Steve Letarte joined the NASCAR on NBC podcast this week. One of the topics the former crew chief discussed is the challenge of avoiding speeding penalties on pit road. Letarte said the introduction of digital dashboards has made it even harder.

Watch the video to hear his thoughts.

NASCAR America: Comparing severity of Harvick, Keselowski and Allmendinger penalties

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NASCAR handed out two crew chief suspensions in the Cup this week following the race weekend in Phoenix while another was upheld on appeal.

Brad Keselowski‘s crew chief, Paul Wolfe, was suspended three races and the team was docked 35 driver and owners points for failing weights and measurements in post-race inspection.

Kevin Harvick‘s crew chief, Rodney Childers, was suspended one race and the team docked 10 driver and owner points for an unapproved track bar slider assembly.

The penalties for AJ Allmendinger‘s team, including the suspension of crew chief Randall Burnett, was upheld after an appeal.

The NASCAR America crew debates which team is hurt the most by their penalties.


Mario Andretti tries out, approves of Charlotte Motor Speedway road course

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We now have two positive reviews of the Charlotte Motor Speedway road course.

Following AJ Allmendinger‘s comments back in January, IndyCar legend Mario Andretti has shared his thoughts on the 2.4-mile circuit that will likely host a NASCAR Cup race in fall 2018.

As a guest of the track and the NASCAR Racing Experience, the 77-year-old driver piloted two cars – a 2015 Porsche 918 Spyder Hybrid and a 2017 Cadillac CTS-V. Andretti maxed out at 177 mph in the Porsche.

“It’s very difficult sometimes to really create a road course where you can ‘stretch your legs’ inside an oval,” Andretti said in a press release. “From that standpoint, I think they did a good job by giving it rhythm by putting some banking to the hairpin corners – which obviously invites some overtaking. It’s wide enough that you can choose a line. You’re not really trapped. … It’s got a multiple-line (groove) that you can choose from, depending on the capability of the car.”

The “roval” circuit would use most of the 1.5-mile oval NASCAR already competes on.

Allmendinger took part in a data test on the road course in mid-January and later said it “was a lot of fun.”

Earlier this month, Speedway Motorsports Inc. CEO Marcus Smith said the track “learned a lot” from the test.

“We have done a lot to engineer a world-class road course that would include the ‘roval,'” Smith told NBC Sports, adding that “several truckloads of crash walls and catchfence” were being transported in for installation.

The Cup Series has two road courses on it schedule, at Sonoma Raceway in California and Watkins Glen International in New York.

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Drivers unhurt in crash of Furniture Row Racing hauler near Las Vegas Motor Speedway

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The drivers of the Furniture Row Racing hauler carrying Erik Jones’ No. 77 Toyota were uninjured Thursday in a hit-and-run accident 15 miles north of Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

Travis Watts, who was behind the wheel, and David Shano were traveling from Phoenix Raceway to Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California, when their tractor-trailer rig was struck shortly after midnight on Interstate 15, according to a team release. The team said a car carrying two occupants pulled off the shoulder and back onto the highway directly in front of the truck, causing front-end damage to the tractor.

The team said there was no damage to the trailer or its interior, which was carrying Jones’ cars.

“We’re all very relieved no one was injured in the incident,” team president Joe Garone said. “There was substantial damage to the tractor, but everything in the trailer was checked out thoroughly and is OK. We’ve rented a tractor and the No. 77 hauler is on schedule to arrive at Auto Club Speedway later (Thursday).”

The team rented a replacement tractor at a Rush Truck Centers in North Las Vegas.

According to the team, the Nevada Highway Patrol apprehended and arrested the occupants of the car. The team is working to supply police with a video dash cam from the No. 77 tractor.