Three-time champ Johnson tops list of Blount's Blitz Awards and Razzies
Without further ado, the "winners" of the third annual Blount's Blitz Awards and Razzies ... minus the red-carpet treatment, writes Terry Blount.
A dynasty and domination.It's a good way to sum up a couple of championship performers in the 2008 season of auto racing.Jimmie Johnson earned a historic third consecutive Sprint Cup championship, joining NASCAR legend Cale Yarborough as the only men to accomplish the feat.Now everyone will start asking whether Johnson and crew chief Chad Knaus can take the No. 48 Chevrolet team to a fourth straight title in 2009, securing their place as a NASCAR team dynasty for the ages. Tony Schumacher already has reached that status in the NHRA. He won his fifth consecutive Top Fuel crown and sixth overall in the Army dragster.If motorsports greatness is what you're looking for, this was your year. But it's only a small part of the story for us in the third annual Blount's Blitz Awards and Razzies.Here's a look at best/worst, good/bad, highs/lows, funniest and saddest moments of the 2008 season:• Most Historic Moment -- Johnson's third straight Cup crown. Thirty years after Yarborough became the first man to win three consecutive championships, Johnson joined him on the exclusive list. All of Johnson's titles came in a playoff format. Yarborough's came in a full-season points total. Which is tougher? You be the judge. • Crew Chief for the Ages -- Chad Knaus one-upped his partner in one category. Knaus became the first crew chief in NASCAR history to win three consecutive championships. • Driver of the Year -- Tony Schumacher. A tough choice, but Schumacher won a remarkable 15 of 24 events, including 10 of the last 12 races. Granted, this wasn't the strongest year for Top Fuel competition, but Schumacher was as close to perfect as you'll ever see in a racing machine.• Crew Chief of the Year -- Alan Johnson, the master guru of Schumacher's success. He guided Schumacher back to the top after he joined Don Schumacher Racing in the middle of the 2003 season.Johnson now has eight Top Fuel crowns, winning three as Gary Scelzi's tuner. But Johnson will move on next year and run a new two-car operation. It will be interesting to see who fares better -- Johnson's new team or Schumacher without him. • Best Move -- Kyle Busch's going to Joe Gibbs Racing. Busch took a major step upward as a serious championship contender in his first year at JGR. He won eight Cup events and led the standings most of the regular season. Things didn't work out for Busch in the Chase, but it shouldn't take away from an amazing season; he won a total of 21 races, including 10 Nationwide events and three Truck races.• Best Gift -- Tony Stewart's becoming a Cup team owner for free. Stewart starts a new chapter in his career next season as the man in charge at Stewart-Haas Racing. And it didn't cost him a dime. He brought in over $30 million in sponsorship, along with adding fellow driver Ryan Newman and a core group of talented workers in Cup racing.
• Wise Rule Change -- NASCAR's saying it will implement a plan in 2009 to randomly drug test drivers and crew members. But it didn't happen until after Aaron Fike revealed he competed in Truck races while using heroin.
Terry Blount covers motorsports for ESPN.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.