Johnson the first driver to win annual award

The Associated Press ~ staff The News
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Male Athlete of the Year

There was little recognition outside the racing world when Jimmie Johnson won his first NASCAR championship.

Same with his second, and again with his third.

But four straight championships? That's a different story.

Johnson, the first driver in NASCAR history to win four consecutive titles, earned mainstream recognition Monday when he was honoured as the Male Athlete of the Year by members of The Associated Press.

Jimmy Johnson (shown above) outpolled Roger Federer and Usain Bolt to win the AP Award. - Associated Press file photo

There was little recognition outside the racing world when Jimmie Johnson won his first NASCAR championship.

Same with his second, and again with his third.

But four straight championships? That's a different story.

Johnson, the first driver in NASCAR history to win four consecutive titles, earned mainstream recognition Monday when he was honoured as the Male Athlete of the Year by members of The Associated Press.

Johnson received 42 votes from editors at U.S. newspapers which are members of the AP. Tennis star Roger Federer (30 votes) and Olympic sprinter Usain Bolt (29) were the only other athletes with totals in the double- digits.

Although Tiger Woods was named Athlete of the Decade, the golfer received only nine votes for Athlete of the Year. He was tied with NBA star Kobe Bryant and slugger Albert Pujols.

For Johnson, the first race car driver to be named the AP's Athlete of the Year in its 78-year history, the award is the validation he's been waiting for since he began his historic run in 2006.

"We'd been wondering the last few years, 'When is this going to hit?"' he said. "It seems like the answer is now. The wave is finally peaking, and we don't know where it's going to take us.

"The fourth-straight title takes it out of our sport and makes it a point of discussion - like, 'Wow, a race car driver won this thing."'

Johnson said the honour reinforces what he's always believed - that even though he's a race car driver, he's "100 per cent" an athlete.

"I've looked at other sports, particularly baseball, and I've seen plenty of out-of-shape, fat players," said Johnson, who counts among his close friends former NFL player Jason Sehorn, and baseball players Brian and Marcus Giles.

"So to anyone who wants to go head-to-head with me in athletic ability, let's go. I talked a lot with Jason Sehorn about this, and I don't know how exactly you measure athletic ability, but I know my (eight-kilometre) run time will destroy most NFL players."

Organizations: NASCAR, The Associated Press, NBA NFL

Geographic location: U.S.

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  • Taxpayer ll
    July 02, 2010 - 13:32

    Sam the car doesn't go around the track by itself. These guys lose up to 5 pounds during a 500 mile race in hot grulling conditions. How would you feel after driving to port aux basques from st. john's at 200 miles an hour, with other cars just inches from your bumper. Mr. Johnson achived what no other driver has done, back to back four time champion...and deserves every accolade he will get.

  • sam
    July 02, 2010 - 13:24

    to the associated press you gave male athlete of the year to a car hello hello!?.

  • Taxpayer ll
    July 01, 2010 - 20:21

    Sam the car doesn't go around the track by itself. These guys lose up to 5 pounds during a 500 mile race in hot grulling conditions. How would you feel after driving to port aux basques from st. john's at 200 miles an hour, with other cars just inches from your bumper. Mr. Johnson achived what no other driver has done, back to back four time champion...and deserves every accolade he will get.

  • sam
    July 01, 2010 - 20:09

    to the associated press you gave male athlete of the year to a car hello hello!?.