Jimmie Johnson wins unprecedented fifth straight Cup championship
Jimmie Johnson is still the king of the road following his unprecedented fifth consecutive Sprint Cup championship.
"Unbelievable!" Johnson shouted over the radio to his crew after clinching the title by 39 points over runner-up Denny Hamlin. "You guys are the best! I cannot believe we did this! Unbelievable!"
Johnson's second place finish to Carl Edwards in the Ford 400 at Miami-Homestead was more than enough to get the job done, especially with Hamlin struggling to finish 14th. The champagne flowed after the race, as Johnson, crew chief Chad Knaus and Co. celebrated the most exciting finish in the history of the Chase for the Cup.
This was a great day not only for Johnson but also for NASCAR. After being widely criticized for its ever-changing Chase "playoff" formula, the three-man shootout between Johnson, Hamlin and Kevin Harvick gave the Chase the credibility it had been lacking — at least for one year.
Unlike years past, when the Miami-Homestead stop was essentially a coronation, Johnson actually had to fight to the finish to win it all this season. And that made the victory taste even sweeter, for Johnson's team, the NASCAR governing body and race fans watching at home.
"It's not that the other Chases weren't competitive," explained Johnson. "We were stronger I think in the previous two Chases, at least. Maybe all four. But this one, I'm just so proud."
Man For All Seasons
Little Danny Woodhead stole the show from big names like Tom Brady and Peyton Manning during the Patriots' 31–28 win over the Colts.
The 5'8", 195-pound jack of all trades from Division II Chadron State — who was cut by the Jets before landing with Pats — had seven carries for 69 yards and a highlight reel 36-yard touchdown, while hauling in four catches for 21 yards.
Granted, Brady completed 19-of-25 passes for 186 yards, two scoring strikes and no interceptions. And the "Law Firm" BenJarvus Green-Ellis added 21 carries for 96 yards and one trip to the end zone. But the Indy defense had no answer for Woodhead, who lines up everywhere on the field and has a knack for making big plays when they matter most.
"I do everything to make the play, whether I'm a runner, a receiver or on a kickoff," said Woodhead. "I'm not too worried what everybody thinks about my size, weight or height. My worry is about doing my job, whatever that might be."
After losing sharpshooter Mike Miller to a thumb injury prior to the start of the season, the Miami Heat may be forced to play without Udonis Haslem. The veteran power forward suffered a torn ligament in his left foot and will likely miss over a month.
With an 8–5 start already putting a chink in the Heat armor, the last thing LeBron, D-Wade and Bosh need is to lose their reliable enforcer, who is a sturdy defender, strong rebounder and clutch mid-range shot-maker from the baseline.
At some point before the playoffs, the Heat will need to have their full arsenal playing well together. Otherwise, there probably won't be any championship parades in South Beach in 2011.