Seven!

Seven Time NASCAR Sprint Cup Champion!
It must be my year for sports winners. First, my Cubbies lifted the curse and tonight Jimmie Johnson won his Seventh NASCAR Championship. Seven! The only others to do that are Dale Earnhardt and Richard Petty. Both names that even people who don't care about NASCAR are likely to recognize. That is impressive company and he has a chance to move ahead of them both if he can get Eight.

But, I get ahead of myself. I just want to enjoy Seven.

I've been a fan of Jimmie's since his rookie year in 2002. I've told the story many times because it's so quintessentially me. I was dating a guy who was really into NASCAR. Really. Into. So, I thought I would get on the bandwagon so we would have something to enjoy together.

During the fall race at Phoenix International Raceway, I started my research. It made sense to pick a rookie so that I would have someone to follow for a long time. It also made sense to pick someone good so I looked at earnings for the year so far. That took it down to Jimmie and Ryan Newman. The deciding factor came from looking at their pictures. Jimmie was, and is, better looking so he became "my" driver.

When I told the guy I was dating that I picked a driver, he was excited. When I told him it was Jimmie, he was less so. His exact reaction was "I wish you had picked someone better."

We are no longer dating.

OK, the no longer dating had nothing to do with Jimmie. But, it's been really fun over the years to mention Jimmie's championships or just flash him a digital representation of the number from across the room when we run into each other. A better person might not mention that his driver never won a championship but we all know I'm not that better person.

I've spent countless hours pacing, screaming and silently praying to the racing gods over the years while watching races. I've gone to races and also screamed myself silly. I even missed the beginning of a house concert with Jim Hoehn so I could watch the end of a deciding race (he was totally cool with it because Jim Hoehn is totally cool).

But, over the past few years, my race watching has diminished because of, well, life. In fact, I hadn't watched a complete race so far this season. However, I was in for the long haul on this one and even pulled out one of my Jimmie shirts to wear. I may never take it off now.

For those that don't know, they changed the championship structure (again) and there were four drivers still eligible to win. It all came down to finishing ahead of the other three in this final race. The bad part of that was that Jimmie's car just didn't have it. Despite working his way up from the back of the field, he couldn't get past the others.

Until, fortune stepped in. Well, fortune in the form of Carl Edwards blocking Joey Logano with ten laps to go which took Edwards out of the race and put Logano behind Jimmie. Couple of restarts later and Jimmie pulled away from Kyle Busch (the other of the four) and won the race and his Seventh Championship.

Seven. What a lovely number.

I know people will say he got lucky. And, he did in this race. But, it wasn't luck that got him into one of those final four spots. It was great driving, a great crew chief, great ownership and a great crew.

Great job, team 48! Hey, there's an 8 in there...maybe that's a sign of things to come? I sure hope so!

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