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Johnson continues his domination at Martinsville

Wins Sprint Cup race
Sunday, March 29, 2009

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Jimmie Johnson enjoys the spoils of victory
CIA Stock Photo
On the 25th anniversary of Rick Hendrick’s first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series win as a car owner, it was more of the same for Hendrick and Jimmie Johnson.

An aggressive pass of Denny Hamlin on Lap 485 of the Goody’s Fast Pain Relief 500 gave Johnson the lead Sunday at Martinsville Speedway, and he pulled away to beat Hamlin by 0.774 seconds. The victory was Johnson’s first of the season and the 41st of his career; he now has six wins at Martinsville—five in the past six races. It was Hendrick’s 18th win at the 0.526-mile track.

Tony Stewart ran third, followed by polesitter and series points leader Jeff Gordon and Clint Bowyer. Ryan Newman, Mark Martin, Dale Earnhardt Jr., AJ Allmendinger and Jamie McMurray rounded out the top 10.

Hamlin, who led a race-high 296 laps, had wrested the lead from Johnson with a bold move to the inside on a Lap 456 restart. Johnson trailed Hamlin through two short green-flag runs and two cautions before Johnson saw his opportunity seven laps after a restart on Lap 478.

Entering Turn 3 on Lap 485, Johnson nosed beneath Hamlin’s No. 11 Toyota. Hamlin squeezed Johnson to the inside and the No. 48 Chevy bounced off the inside curb. Johnson slid up the track, and contact between the two lead cars allowed Johnson to pass for the lead.

“I felt like I was a little bit better than the 11 on the long runs,” Johnson said. “I was able to stay with him and got closer and closer, and I went into Turn 3 and got inside of him. I think he was trying to not leave me a lot of room, which is what you do, and before I knew it, I was up on the curb and we had made contact and were sliding sideways.

“It certainly wasn’t something intentional. I was just trying to get in there and get the win. I was in there, and he was coming down and we made some contact. Fortunately, neither one of us spun out, and he was able to recover and finish second.”

Hamlin, who hasn’t won a race since his victory at Martinsville a year ago, was gracious in his assessment of Johnson’s move.

“It’s short-track racing—that’s all the fans could ask for right there,” Hamlin said. “We tried to do our best to hold him off. You fight for every inch around this racetrack, and he got the better of us today. If the roles were reversed, I’d do the same thing—and, believe me, I will if it ever comes back around.”

For more than 400 laps, it was a two-man show that didn’t involve Johnson. Gordon led 141 of the first 155 laps before Hamlin powered inside of Gordon off Turn 4 on Lap 156 and held the top spot for 187 laps until Gordon slipped past on Lap 343.

Six laps later, Hamlin regained the lead in traffic.

Quick work in the pits under caution got Johnson out first for a restart on Lap 434, and he retained the top spot until Hamlin’s dive to the inside on Lap 456—a move arranged with the help of teammate Kyle Busch, who was the first lapped car on the inside lane when the field took the green flag for the restart. Busch gave Hamlin enough room to drive to the inside of Johnson as the cars raced toward the first corner.

Notes: Six of the top eight positions went to Hendrick cars (Johnson, Gordon, Martin and Earnhardt) and Hendrick affiliates (Stewart and Newman of Stewart-Haas Racing). ... The Busch brothers’ streak of three straight race wins ended with a whimper. Kurt started second but faded as the race progressed, finishing 18th. A tire problem cost Kyle two laps in the early stages, dropping him to 24th at the finish. ... Gordon extended his lead in the points standings to 89 over second-place Bowyer and 132 over Kurt Busch.  ... Geoff Bodine won the 1984 Sovran Bank 500 at Martinsville, the first Cup victory for Hendrick Motorsports. Johnson’s victory on Sunday was Hendrick’s 176th.

Results

FIN ST CAR DRIVER MAKE SPONSOR PTS/BNS LAPS STATUS
1 9 48 Jimmie Johnson Chevrolet Lowe's 190/5 500 Running
2 8 11 Denny Hamlin Toyota FedEx Freight 180/10 500 Running
3 7 14 Tony Stewart Chevrolet Old Spice / Office Depot 165/0 500 Running
4 1 24 Jeff Gordon Chevrolet DuPont 165/5 500 Running
5 3 33 Clint Bowyer Chevrolet BB&T 155/0 500 Running
6 27 39 Ryan Newman Chevrolet U.S. Army 150/0 500 Running
7 31 5 Mark Martin Chevrolet Kellogg's / Carquest 146/0 500 Running
8 19 88 Dale Earnhardt Jr. Chevrolet Amp Energy / National Guard 142/0 500 Running
9 16 44 A.J. Allmendinger Dodge Charter Comm. 138/0 500 Running
10 28 26 Jamie McMurray Ford Irwin Industrial Tools 134/0 500 Running
11 12 29 Kevin Harvick Chevrolet Shell / Pennzoil 130/0 500 Running
12 15 42 Juan Montoya Chevrolet Target 127/0 500 Running
13 21 55 Michael Waltrip Toyota NAPA 124/0 500 Running
14 24 47 Marcos Ambrose Toyota Little Debbie / Kingsford / Clorox 121/0 500 Running
15 13 31 Jeff Burton Chevrolet Caterpillar 118/0 500 Running
16 23 96 Bobby Labonte Ford Ask.com 120/5 500 Running
17 29 43 Reed Sorenson Dodge Charter Comm. 112/0 500 Running
18 2 2 Kurt Busch Dodge Miller Lite 109/0 500 Running
19 6 9 Kasey Kahne Dodge Budweiser 106/0 500 Running
20 11 00 David Reutimann Toyota Aaron's Dream Machine 103/0 500 Running
21 25 07 Casey Mears Chevrolet Jack Daniel's 100/0 500 Running
22 22 12 David Stremme Dodge Penske Racing 97/0 500 Running
23 10 17 Matt Kenseth Ford Dewalt 94/0 500 Running
24 4 18 Kyle Busch Toyota M&M's 91/0 498 Running
25 38 98 Paul Menard Ford Energizer / Menards 88/0 498 Running
26 5 99 Carl Edwards Ford Aflac 85/0 498 Running
27 26 6 David Ragan Ford UPS 82/0 498 Running
28 18 16 Greg Biffle Ford 3M 79/0 498 Running
29 20 1 Martin Truex Jr. Chevrolet Bass Pro Shops / Tracker 76/0 498 Running
30 40 36 Scott Riggs Toyota Array Lighting / Nexxus Lighting 73/0 497 Running
31 17 19 Elliott Sadler Dodge Stanley Tools 70/0 497 Running
32 34 20 Joey Logano * Toyota The Home Depot 67/0 496 Running
33 14 83 Brian Vickers Toyota Red Bull 64/0 496 Running
34 32 77 Sam Hornish Jr. Dodge Mobil 1 61/0 496 Running
35 33 34 John Andretti Chevrolet Taco Bell 58/0 496 Running
36 35 171 David Gilliland Chevrolet Capital Window 55/0 492 Running
37 37 8 Aric Almirola Chevrolet Guitar Hero 52/0 490 Running
38 42 41 Jeremy Mayfield Toyota All Sport 54/5 441 Running
39 36 82 Scott Speed * Toyota Red Bull 51/5 424 Running
40 30 7 Robby Gordon Toyota Robby Gordon Motorsports 43/0 349 Out of Race
41 41 187 Joe Nemechek Toyota NEMCO Motorsports 40/0 90 Running
42 39 66 Dave Blaney Toyota Prism Motorsports 42/5 49 Running
43 43 64 Todd Bodine Toyota Gunselman Motorsports 34/0 3 Out of Race

* Denotes Rookie

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