Checkered Past: The 2006 Chase and Johnson's First Title

Another difference from 2006 to 2013:
In 2006, the NASCAR Awards Banquet was
held in New York City, not Las Vegas.
Champion Jimmie Johnson at 48th and 1st -
Credit: Getty Images for NASCAR/
Chris Trotman
Things were different when Jimmie Johnson won his first championship in 2006. One, it was the Chase for the NEXTEL Cup – the Sprint Cup came into existence in 2008. Two, there were only 10 participants – not the 12 we’ve become accustomed to (or the lucky 13 we had in 2013). Three, it was contested under the old points system. Four, some of the names were even different.

Conspicuously absent in the 2006 Chase: 2005 champ Tony Stewart, who was the only defending champ until Brad Keselowski in 2013 to be unable to defend his title. Also missing: 2005’s second- and third-place finishers, Greg Biffle and Carl Edwards, respectively.

Five of the 10 Chase races were won by non-Chasers, led by Stewart with three (Kansas, Atlanta and Texas). Brian Vickers took his first career win at Talladega and Biffle won the season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

Denny Hamlin became the first rookie to make the Chase, finishing third on his way to the Rookie of the Year Award. Kevin Harvick, Kasey Kahne, Kyle Busch and Jeff Burton also qualified for their first Chase.
In addition to Stewart, Biffle and Edwards, other drivers not in the Chase who had made previous Chase appearances included Kurt Busch, Ryan Newman and Jeremy Mayfield.

The top 10 in points for the 2006 Chase for the NEXTEL Cup – 1) Johnson (2013 – first), 2) Matt Kenseth (2013 – second), 3) Hamlin (2013 – not in Chase), 4) Harvick (2013 – third), 5)Dale Earnhardt Jr. (2013 – fifth), 6) Jeff Gordon (2013 – sixth), 7) Burton (2013 – not in Chase), 8) Kahne (2013 – 12th), 9) Mark Martin (2013 – not in Chase) and 10) Kyle Busch (2013 – fourth).
Checkered Past: The 2006 Chase and Johnson's First Title Checkered Past: The 2006 Chase and Johnson's First Title Reviewed by Paula on Thursday, November 28, 2013 Rating: 5