Given how strong Jimmie Johnson has been in winning the last two Nextel Cup championships, opposing teams are going to have to get creative if they want to stop him from winning a third straight title in 2008.

Given how strong Jimmie Johnson has been in winning the last two Nextel Cup championships, opposing teams are going to have to get creative if they want to stop him from winning a third straight title in 2008.

So, as a public service to teams that are not under the Hendrick Motorsports umbrella, we offer a few "creative" suggestions on how to stop Johnson:

- Drop a bunch of nails in his pit stall.

- Kidnap crew chief Chad Knaus and hold him hostage until the season ends.

- Pay Britney Spears to hang around him instead of Nick Lachey. With the kind of negative mojo and attention Spears brings with her, Johnson's a cinch to tank.

- And if none of the above works, there's always the ultimate momentum stopper: Put heavy-duty laxative in his water bottle.

Other than that, the stark truth and reality is there's not much else left when it comes to stopping Johnson and the No. 48 Chevrolet. As he's gotten older, he's gotten better – a trend that shows no signs of letting up this season.

"I only anticipate this year being better," said Johnson, 32 and in the prime of his racing career.

That's obviously not the kind of thing the 40-plus other Sprint Cup teams want to hear. After all, Johnson won his second consecutive championship last season based upon stats that some guys don't even get in a career: 10 wins, 20 top-fives and 24 top-10s.

Johnson also won five of last season's 16 Car of Tomorrow races. And with the COT now the car of today and for the next decade or so, extrapolate Johnson's totals from last season and a case could be made that, as mind-boggling as it may seem, there's enough stats, history and talent in place that Johnson truly can indeed be even better in 2008 than he has been the last two seasons.

"We feel really good about the year," Johnson said. "I think as a whole, the company is carrying a lot of momentum. But we know it's a new year. We know during the off-season (opposing) teams were working hard to get their cars right.

"We saw (Roush Fenway Racing) really coming on strong at the end of last year. I would be foolish to sit up here and pound on my chest and say we're going to continue where we left off because I really think the competition is closing up, and I think that guys have been pretty motivated over the off-season to get their cars better."

Johnson is the king of conjecture and trash talking in Cup racing. He preaches gloom and doom – or that he makes too many "mistakes" – yet he somehow finds a way to merrily take one checkered flag after another.

Teammate Jeff Gordon, who finished a close second to Johnson last season – once again losing out on a chance to win his fifth career Cup championship – says Johnson is indeed the man to beat in 2008.

"He's the best, and that team's been the best," Gordon said. "I think we all look at them as the team to beat for many years to come."

Gordon was no shirk himself last season with six wins, 21 top-fives and an incredible 30 top-10 finishes, finishing runner-up to his teammate.

Gordon led the standings most of last season, but his undoing – if you want to call it that – was during the Chase for the Nextel Cup. While Gordon sought to maintain the status quo, Johnson and Knaus elected to be a bit more aggressive in their strategy, gameplan and car setup.

That proved to be the big difference, end of story and end of Gordon's championship hopes.

It was a lesson that is not lost on Gordon – although, he freely admits "there's not a whole lot we could do different."

Ultimately, Johnson picked one road that meant taking a few extra chances along the way, while Gordon took the smoother, consistent road. Both drivers ran parallel to each other until the latter part of the Chase, when Johnson edged forward, never to look back.

"I think the only thing maybe we could have done different was be a little bit more aggressive in the setups," Gordon admitted. "I attribute that to the great work that Jimmie and Chad and that team did. Chad is not afraid to push the limits on the setups, and Jimmie's not afraid to drive them. Chad's really good at convincing him to drive them, too. I think that that might be the only place where we missed out a little bit, was that we probably didn't push those limits far enough.

"While Jimmie was faster for much of the year, we were more consistent. I will take the consistency that we had last year, and I would take it again this year.  Knowing that we got beat having that kind of consistency, it's going to push us to try to get more speed, which is our job every year, to try to go faster."

Teams have worked throughout the off-season to find ways to stop Johnson, but the battle to beat him – if anyone truly can – begins in earnest on Feb. 17 at the 50th running of the season-opening Daytona 500.

So, too, does Johnson's quest to become only the second driver in Cup history to win three championships in a row, seeking to tie Cale Yarborough's mark set from 1976-78.

"(Winning three in a row would) be unbelievable," Johnson said. "I think every year I look for different things to motivate me. In a sense, chasing history is that. I would love to win three in a row and be one of two guys to ever do that.

"I look at Jeff (Gordon) with four championships and think, you know, I've got a lot of years of racing left in me. Is that a mark that I can get to? So I look for things to motivate myself, and I'm putting those two marks ahead of me. Not standing here saying I'm going to Babe Ruth this thing, call it, get it done. But everybody needs something to motivate themselves. That's my motivation. I want to win three in a row, then look for a fourth and keep rolling if I can."

But that leads us back to our original question: How do you beat a guy who is seemingly invincible and, for the most part, unbeatable when it matters most?

Judging by what he's done the past two seasons, there's no reason to think Johnson won't keep rolling in 2008 … unless some opposing team just happens to find a way to "accidentally" spill five pounds of sugar in his gas tank every race.