Feb 4

"Seven-Time" vs Stick 'n' Ball

Is it reasonable to compare auto racing to stick and ball sports? Maybe? …or maybe not?

Regardless of the comparability (or lack thereof), we have found some numbers that are at least interesting.

With the big game looming, we figured in this run up to the Super Bowl we’d take a look at how seven-time Cup Champ Jimmie Johnson stacks up against America’s premier stick and ball leagues – the MLB, NBA, NHL, and the NFL.

Surely the world-beater Yankees and dynastic Celtics, Patriots, and Montreal Canadians run the American sporting championship tables…don’t they? Think again…

There’s no denying the New York Yankees are the king of the mountain when it comes to total Championships: a whopping 27 in a record 40 World Series appearances. Among the ‘big four’ stick and ball leagues in America, ten teams have more championships than Jimmie Johnson’s NASCAR record-tying seven. Eleven teams have made it to the Championship round in their respective sport with a shot at the crown more times than Jimmie Johnson’s eleven.

Where Jimmie’s dominance comes to light is in his percentages: the percentage of times he has won the championship, and the percentage of years he has raced for a championship in the final race of the year in Miami.

Jimmie and his No. 48 crew have only been in business for fifteen years while most MLB and some NHL organizations have been around for over a century, but numbers are numbers and records are still records. In those 15 fulltime seasons, Johnson and Team Lowe’s have won 7 Cup Titles (47% win rate), and raced for one 11 times (a staggering 73% of the time). The best stick and ball can offer are the Boston Celtics’ 17 NBA titles in 71 seasons (24%) and the Los Angeles Lakers’ appearance in 31 NBA Finals in their 70 year history (44%).

Jimmie is well known for the consecutive nature of his championships: a NASCAR record five-straight from 2006 to 2010, which capped a run of eight straight years with a shot at the Cup in Miami (2003 to 2010). Only two teams managed to do better than Johnson in those categories. From 1957 to 1966 the Celtics went to every NBA Finals (ten straight), and that dynasty won eight straight from 1959 to 1966. The Montreal Canadians also appeared in ten straight NHL Stanley Cup Finals from 1951 to 1960.

The MLB, NHL, NBA, and NASCAR all have a longer history than today’s NFL (the first Super Bowl was held in 1967), and you may have noticed no NFL franchises have been mentioned. Well, that’s because Jimmie Johnson’s numbers top them all. But since Super Bowl LI is on our doorstep, here’s how the best from the first 50 years stack up: Most Super Bowl Championships – Pittsburgh Steelers with six (12% win rate); Most Super Bowl Appearances –New England Patriots with 9 (18%); Most Consecutive Super Bowl Appearances – Buffalo Bills with four from 1990 to 1993 (none of them victorious); and seven franchises share the record for consecutive Super Bowl Championships with two-in-a-row.

One could argue for a lifetime either side of the merit of comparing auto racing to stick and ball sports. In the end, it doesn’t really matter. Hopefully this article at least made you say “huh” or “wow” and you learned a few things, and most importantly, enjoyed some interesting comparisons. Who’s ready for Daytona?

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