"Is the year over yet?" a grinning Hamlin asked in Victory Lane. "Man, I wanted to keep that streak alive."

Hamlin's celebration was brief as the victory stage was cleared for Johnson. Hamlin nearly stood atop the podium in 2010, when he took Johnson down to the wire, only to fade in the finale as Johnson claimed his record fifth consecutive title.

Now, with the sixth title, Johnson's accomplishments resonate far beyond NASCAR.

His numbers stack up with Roger Federer, who won 16 of 27 Grand Slams from 2003-10; Michael Phelps, who won 18 gold medals in three Olympics from 2004 to 2012, and Tiger Woods, who won four consecutive majors in 2000 and 2001, and seven overall from 1999-2002.

More important to Johnson, like Michael Jordan, he now has six rings, too.

Jordan won six NBA titles from 1991-98.

"When you mention Michael's name, he's given me a hard time that I only won five," Johnson said. "I can't wait to send him a text and say, `Hey, buddy, I've caught up.'"

Johnson won the title this year with a 5.1 average finish over the 10 Chase for the Sprint Cup championship races. The mark was second only to the 5.0 average he posted in 2007 when he beat teammate Jeff Gordon for his second title.

It was four-time champion Gordon that discovered Johnson racing in the Nationwide Series in 2001 and convinced team owner Rick Hendrick to hire him for a new fourth team.

"You know, they are unbelievable and they proved it again this year just how good they are as a group, as a team," Gordon said. "Jimmie as a driver, Chad as a crew chief, Hendrick Motorsports, everybody is just so good. But specifically, the No. 48, they just have a chemistry and a way to make incredible things happen especially at the right times. That is unbelievable - six championships."