(Reuters) - Jimmie Johnson added another title to his dominant NASCAR career by clinching the Sprint Cup Series championship with a ninth-place finish at the season-ending Ford EcoBoost 400 on Sunday.
For Johnson, who only needed to finish 23rd or better at Homestead-Miami Speedway to win the Cup, it marked his sixth championship in eight years as he finished 19 points ahead of Matt Kenseth in the final standings.
“I‘m so happy to win this sixth championship,” Johnson told reporters after winning his first series title since 2010. “I‘m so thankful. I‘m at a loss for words.”
The victory puts Johnson in rare company as he joins Richard Petty and Dale Earnhardt as the only drivers to win at least six NASCAR series championships.
Johnson delivered five in a row from 2006-2010.
His latest win did not come without a little drama as Johnson and Kenseth made contact with one another during a restart late in the race. The incident caused a little damage but could not slow Johnson’s run.
“I had contact from behind. I didn’t know what to think,” Johnson said. “It made the last 50 laps kind of interesting.”
Kenseth was the pole-sitter and led most of the way in the season finale but he would have needed Johnson to slip up along the way.
Kenseth finished second behind winner Denny Hamlin, who snagged his 23rd career victory. Dale Earnhardt Jr. finished third in the race and fifth in the final standings.
Kevin Harvick and Kyle Busch were third and fourth, respectively, in the overall Sprint Cup results.
Writing by Jahmal Corner in Los Angeles; Editing by Frank Pingue