Jimmie Johnson's fifth consecutive NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship was voted the sport’s top competition story for 2010 by members of the media.
Johnson, who finished 25th in the opening race of the Chase for the Sprint Cup, rallied dramatically over the final two weeks of the season to come from behind and defeat Denny Hamlin and Kevin Harvick by 39 and 41 points, respectively.
The fifth consecutive championship for Johnson was one of 21 competition storylines nominated by NASCAR as the best of the 2010 season. Media members voted on the 21 in a poll that ran from Nov. 30 until Dec. 6 at noon.
First-place votes received 21 points, with second-place votes receiving 20 points, third-place votes 19 points and so forth down to one point for a 21st-place vote.
Johnson’s run for a record fifth straight Sprint Cup title earned 49 first-place votes and a total of 1,449 points.
Finishing second to Johnson’s achievement was NASCAR’s return to its roots, by adopting its new “Boys, have at it” philosophy, which captured 17 first-place votes and 1,294 points.
Finishing third in the balloting was Hamlin’s recovery from early-season knee surgery to challenge for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship. The Virginia native won a series-high eight races and finished a career-best second in the final Cup point standings.
Kyle Busch’s modern era-record of 24 national series victories, including an unprecedented sweep of the NASCAR Sprint Cup, Nationwide and Camping World Truck Series races at Bristol Motor Speedway in August, was selected the fourth top story.
The rest of the top 10 highlights of 2010, according to the media, are: Richard Childress Racing’s revival; the return of the spoiler to the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series cars; the introduction of a maximum of three restart attempts prior to the white flag under NASCAR’s green-white-checkered flag finish; Brad Keselowski winning the Nationwide title, providing owner Roger Penske with his first NASCAR championship; and the most competitive season in Sprint Cup history, with records for lead changes and leaders.
Tom Jensen is the Editor in Chief of SPEED.com, Senior NASCAR Editor at RACER and a contributing Editor for TruckSeries.com. You can follow him online at twitter.com/tomjensen100 and e-mail him at Jensen is the author of “Cheating: The Bad Things Good NASCAR Nextel Cup Racers Do In Pursuit of Speed,” and has appeared on numerous television and radio shows. Jensen is the past President of the National Motorsports Press Association and an NMPA Writer of the Year.