Richard Petty, Dale Earnhardt and Jimmie Johnson.
Those are the three most-successful drivers in NASCAR history when it comes to season championships and Johnson joined the other legends on Sunday when he won his seventh Sprint Cup at age 41.
Simply put, he’s easily the best driver of the here and now — and his cardboard is among the most-overlooked when it comes to value vs. performance. There are others who have done far less who sell just as well or better.
Beyond the championships, Johnson is easily the most-successful of the active drivers in NASCAR with 80 career victories, which is seventh among all drivers in its history and double that of the next-highest active driver (Kyle Busch at 38). Another season like this one and he’ll only trail the retired Jeff Gordon, David Pearson and Petty on the career victories list.
No other active driver has more than one Sprint Cup sitting at home and the sport’s most-popular driver (he’s won that award every year since 2003), Dale Earnhardt Jr., has zero.
“It is incredible what Jimmie’s been able to do in this sport in such a short period of time,” Earnhardt told NASCAR.com after Sunday’s season finale. “That’s seven championships in 11 years. I think he’s one of the best drivers the sport has ever seen, maybe the best. He’s been in that conversation for many years and this really closes the book on any doubts that anybody had where he ranks. He’s in that discussion with my father and Richard and I’m glad I was a witness to it.
“I told Jimmie I wish Dad were here to shake his hand,” Earnhardt said. “He would certainly love the type of driver he is. I know that for sure.”
Johnson broke into NASCAR’s top series as a full-timer in 2002 but his Rookie Cards are found in four Upper Deck releases from 2000. His RCs are in the Maxx, Maxximum, SP Authentic and Upper Deck sets while he has his first autographs are in the 2000 Maxximum Signatures set (above) and in 2000 SP Authentic Sign of the Times and 2000 SP Authentic Sign of the Times Gold (/25). The Maxximum auto can be had for $100 BIN right now, while the SP Authentic is the tougher one to land. Graded copies of that have sold for $175 and $200 in recent days — still a bargain.
Despite having a career in the midst of the autograph era for cardboard, Johnson has fewer than 600 different autographs. More than 500 of those were made by Press Pass during its run, while Panini America has made roughly 30 different Johnson autograph cards so far in its rookie season.
Generally speaking, Johnson’s autographs typically sell for anywhere between $25 and $90 pretty regularly, though the volume of his autos does seem low on eBay. Those are also both signs, especially with his history in the sport, that he’s undervalued and overlooked.
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