NASCAR's model franchise added to the record books in 2010 when Jimmie Johnson raced to his record fifth-straight title. But where does Hendrick Motorsports rank among the best? Here's a look at the 10 greatest dynasties in sports.
Although the club is tied with Liverpool for most Premier League championships (18), Manchester United earns the title for best dynasty of England for its achievements over the last decade. Since the 1998-99 campaign, the Red Devils have won seven league championships (including two three-peats), two FA Cup titles (1999, 2004), three Carling Cups (2006, 2009, 2010), the 1999 Intercontinental Cup, the 2008 FIFA Club World Cup, and two championships in the richest soccer tournament in the world, the Champions Leagues (1999, 2008). During that span, the team has also earned more than its share of individual honors, including European Club Footballer of the Year (David Beckham in 1999, Cristiano Ronaldo in 2008) and FIFA World Player of the Year (Ronaldo in 2008).
UConn women's basketball
Sure, the UConn men's basketball program has seen its share of success, but it's really the women who, time and time again, prove what a real winner is. The women have won seven national championships (compared to the men's two) with three consecutive titles early this decade. And the team has racked up four undefeated seasons — a feat the men can't match.
They're a little old school and a little new school. In the old school are four Super Bowl wins in the 1970s — Super Bowls IX, X, XIII, and XIV. Those teams included future Hall of Famers Terry Bradshaw, Lynn Swann, and "Mean" Joe Greene. Fast forward to 2005 when Pittsburgh won the first of two Super Bowls in this decade under the leadership of QB Ben Roethlisberger. And with their current talent, there could be more rings headed to Pittsburgh in the new few years.
While Jimmie Johnson's fifth-straight Sprint Cup championships is impressive, it is only part of the Hendrick Motorsports empire. Since 1995, Terry Labonte, Jeff Gordon and Johnson helped HMS win a record-tying 10 Cup owner's championships. In that span, the multi-car behemoth owned by Rick Hendrick (pictured) also won three additional Truck series titles, giving the team a record 12 NASCAR championships. And if that weren't enough, HMS was the first organization in history to finish 1-2-3 in the standings, which it did in 2009.
The Montreal Canadiens have had a packed history, beginning as an Original Six team in the NHL. They also have a packed trophy case with 24 Stanley Cups — far more than any other team in the league. In fact, the Habs boost three distinct dynasties in the NHL: 1955-1960 (five consecutive Cups), 1964-1969 (four consecutive), and 1975-1979 (four consecutive). It probably helps that the team also has 42 Hall of Famers, including Maurice "Rocket" Richard, Hector "Toe" Blake, Guy Lafleur, Denis Savard, and Patrick Roy (pictured). Not too bad for an old team that celebrated a century of hockey in 2009.
Armstrong's seven-straight Tour de France wins is one of the most amazing accomplishments by an athlete, and that's before you hear his story. Among the best cyclists in the world, Armstrong left the sport of cycling in 1996 after learning testicular cancer had spread throughout his body. As if surviving the illness wasn't impressive enough, he came back better than ever and established a new mark in the sport. Before Armstrong, the previous best was Miguel Indurain's record of five straight.
Between 1947 and 1958 under legendary coach Bud Wilkinson (pictured), the Oklahoma Sooners amassed win streaks of 31 and 47 games, the latter a national record that still stands. They won national championships in 1950, '55 and '56 and went undefeated in 1949, '54, '55 and '56. Wilkinson's record with Oklahoma, which he left after the 1963 season, was 145-29-4.
With outstanding players such as Bill Walton (pictured), Lew Alcindor (later Kareem Abdul-Jabbar), Jamaal Wilkes and Gail Goodrich, the Bruins won 10 NCAA titles in 12 seasons from 1964-75, including seven straight from 1967-73. But the one constant in the dynasty was the leader of the program: John Wooden, arguably the greatest coach in sports history. The Wizard of Westwood retired in 1975 and it took UCLA 20 years to win another championship.
With Bill Russell anchoring the middle and Red Auerbach smoking victory cigars on the bench, the Celtics won 11 NBA championships in 13 seasons from 1957-69. The nucleus of Russell, point guard Bob Cousy and forward Tommy Heinsohn helped Boston win eight straight titles from 1959-66, the longest streak of any North American professional sports team. Don't expect anyone to match that feat any time soon.
New York Yankees
Led by manager Joe Girardi (pictured), the Bronx Bombers picked up their eye-opening 27th World Series title by beating the Philadelphia Phillies in 2009. To put in perspective how dominant New York has been, the team with the second-most World Series pennants — the St. Louis Cardinals — has 10. Beginning with their first title in 1923, the Yankees have won at least two World Series trophies in every decade except the 1980s, when they won none.