NASCAR Cup: NMPA names Jimmie Johnson as its Driver of the Year
Jimmie Johnson (photo courtesy of Getty Images for NASCAR)
By AMANDA VINCENT
Seven-time NASCAR Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson continues to collect awards for his historic 2016 championship. On Jan. 21, the National Motorsports Press Association (NMPA) announced that it has selected Johnson as its 2016 Richard Petty Driver of the Year award.
Johnson tied NASCAR Hall of Famers Dale Earnhardt and Richard Petty with his seventh Cup title in 2016 on the strength of a five-win season that included a trip to victory lane in the season-finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway in November.
Johnson won twice in the first five races of 2016, notching victories at Atlanta Motor Speedway and Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, Calif. But he, along with Hendrick Motorsports, in general, struggled mid-season. Johnson, though, got his ship righted in the Chase, winning three times during the 10-race postseason en route to his seventh championship.
Johnson has received the award seven times, matching his Cup championship tally, but not all seven of his Driver of the Year awards coincide with championship seasons. The driver who has won Cup championships in 2006-2010, 2013 and 2016 has claimed the NMPA’s yearly Driver of the Year award in 2004, 2006-2007, 2009, 2010, 2013 and 2016.
The membership of the NMPA votes for the recipient of the Richard Petty Driver of the Year award. Johnson’s name appeared on 62 percent of the ballots cast for the 2016 award. Other drivers receiving votes were Carl Edwards, Martin Truex Jr., Kevin Harvick, Tony Stewart and Joey Logano.