A fitting handoff as Johnson takes final lap

Jimmie Johnson ended his decorated NASCAR racing career Sunday. His final laps came at the same time his young teammate, Chase Elliott, was securing his first NASCAR Cup championship.

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Sports

November 10, 2020 - 9:44 AM

Chase Elliott, left, is congratulated by Jimmie Johnson after winning the NASCAR Cup Series Season Finale 500 and the 2020 NASCAR Cup Series Championship at Phoenix Raceway Sunday. Photo by Chris Graythen / Getty Images / TNS

AVONDALE, Ariz. — The high-five between Jimmie Johnson and Chase Elliott was more than the split-second touch of driving gloves.

Not because there were particularly memorable words spoken in that moment — Elliott said the two drivers were “just screaming” through the windows of their Chevrolet cars — as he headed for his victory donuts and Johnson made his final lap around the track as a full-time NASCAR racer. But the gesture was important because it symbolized a generational transition of greatness.

Elliott had just won his first championship in the sport’s top series and Johnson had just closed a career in which he won seven of those titles. They were driving in opposite directions and stopped when their cars passed each other on the track at Phoenix Raceway Sunday night, arms outstretched for a brief congratulations before the evening of celebration.

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