A Hidden Superstar

Here is an assignment. Grab a piece of paper and a pen and try to come up with a list of some of the most amazing athletes in sports.

Done? Chances are you wrote down Tiger Woods in golf, Roger Federer in tennis, LeBron James in basketball, Manny Ramirez or Albert Pujols in baseball and Peyton Manning or Tom Brady in football.

But you might have forgotten one of the most successful sports stars of the decade. He's won three championships in a row and will almost certainly be in contention for another one this year. Give up?

He's racecar driver Jimmie Johnson.

Johnson has been the best NASCAR driver over the last three years. He won the championship cup in 2006, 2007 and 2008, only the second time in NASCAR history that a driver has won three straight championships. The only other racecar driver to win three titles in a row was Cale Yarborough in 1976, 1977 and 1978.

Winning three championships in a row is a sign of true greatness. It means that the athlete or the team will go down in history. In baseball, the Yankees won the World Series in 1998, 1999 and 2000. In football, no team has ever won three straight Super Bowls. The New York Islanders won four Stanley Cup championships in the late 70's and early 80's, the last time a hockey team won three or more titles in a row. The Los Angeles Lakers, who were unstoppable with Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O'Neal, were three-time NBA champions in 2000, 2001 and 2002. All of those teams are considered some of the greatest to ever play sports.

It takes a lot to be a successful racecar driver, both mentally and physically. The cars are going around the track at almost 200 miles per hour. Because the cars are going so fast, the drivers have to be very strong in order to steer and keep them under control. Drivers have to know when to pass the other cars and how to stop the other cars from passing them. Races are exhausting, as they can last more than four hours. Think about how tired you get after a long car ride. That's what racecar drivers go through every race.

Nobody has done all of this better than Johnson and he has three straight championships to prove it. Very few athletes in the world can say that.

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