LOS ANGELES – Jimmie Johnson was selected as the Best Driver during Wednesday’s 2011 ESPYs. This is the fourth straight season in which the driver of the No. 48 Lowe’s Chevrolet has received the honor. He also was up for Best Male Athlete for the second straight season.
Johnson, the lone NASCAR nominee this year, made NASCAR history last season when he clinched his fifth straight Sprint Cup Series championship. Eighteen races into this season, Johnson already has one win, six top-five finishes and 11 top-10s. He currently ranks fifth in the driver standings and knows that just reaching Victory Lane, let alone extending his record-setting championship streak, is becoming more difficult.
“It seems to be more crowded up top then it’s ever been,” Johnson said. “I would predict it’s more difficult - and every year that goes by it’s more difficult for someone to dominate and I think that’s what’s so special about what the (No.) 48 team has done over the last five years. It’s just a tough, tough environment and this year is another step tougher, more difficult.”
NASCAR has dominated the Best Driver category, picking up 13 of the last 16 awards. Johnson’s Hendrick Motorsports teammates have won five of them: Jeff Gordon in 1996, 1998, 1999 and 2007, and Dale Earnhardt Jr. in 2004.