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Hamlin beats Johnson at Martinsville

NASCAR Sprint Cup
Sunday, October 25, 2009

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Denny Hamlin celebrates winning the TUMS Fast Relief 500 at Martinsville Speedway
Geoff Burke/Getty Images for NASCAR
Denny Hamlin may have won the Virginia campaign with a victory Sunday at Martinsville Speedway, but Jimmie Johnson moved ever closer to a record fourth straight NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship with a runner-up finish at the 0.526-mile short track.

In a green-white-checkered-flag finish that ended under caution with John Andretti wrecked at the finish line, Hamlin pulled away from Johnson over the final two laps of the Tums Fast Relief 500. As the cars roared off Turn 4 on Lap 501—one lap beyond the scheduled distance—NASCAR simultaneously displayed the yellow and checkered flags when Andretti was unable to drive away.

Juan Pablo Montoya was third, followed by Kyle Busch and Jeff Gordon. Jamie McMurray, polesitter Ryan Newman, Mark Martin, Tony Stewart and Kevin Harvick completed the top 10.

Hamlin, who passed Johnson for the lead on Lap 363 and held it the rest of the way, collected his second victory at the narrow, paper-clip-shaped track and the seventh win of his career. In winning his third race of the season, the Virginia native completed a sweep of the fall races at the two racetracks in his home state, having scored an emotional triumph at Richmond on Sept. 12.

“We were really good on the long runs, but I was kind of worried about that short run at the end,” said Hamlin, who is ninth in the standings 352 points behind Johnson. “But we were able to survive it, thank God. I hate to say it was a little bit of a lack of a motor, but it seemed like our car just would not accelerate like those guys’ did. By doing that, it saved the rear tires, and it was able to stay a little bit longer. I think that had a little bit to do with why we were so good at length (long runs).

“Jimmie obviously gave us a lot of respect there toward the end. He knew that we had a faster car and tried to protect his points lead. It was a good situation we were in. We were kind of racing for nothing, and he’s obviously racing for a championship, and, honestly, it was a great run at the end.”

Having won five of the previous six races at Martinsville—a streak interrupted only by a Hamlin victory in the spring of 2008—Johnson found solace in his runner-up finish. He increased his lead in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup standings to 118 points over second-place Martin. Gordon is third, 150 off the lead.

Johnson said he was concerned with having to line up in the outside lane (in second position) for restarts on Lap 489 and 500.

“Starting from the outside lane, there was so much to lose,” Johnson said. “I was really nervous about getting to the bottom (the preferred line) and protecting the position I was in. All and all, a good day. I wish we could have won, but we just didn’t have anything for the 11 (Hamlin) on that last run.”

Johnson, however, said it was still too early in the Chase to think about protecting a points lead.   
         
“We all know what the answers are,” he said. “It’s the same stuff over and over again. The mechanicals, the stuff we can’t control is the stuff I’m worried about. The stuff we can control, I feel we’re going to be great. 

“Four good tracks coming up for us. If we have no issues, I feel that we can race for this championship, and things will turn out as we want. But the stuff I can’t control, I know it gives everybody something to talk about, but I’m tired of talking about all the what-ifs—and I’d just rather not.”

Results

FIN ST CAR DRIVER MAKE SPONSOR PTS/BNS LAPS STATUS
1 17 11 Denny Hamlin Toyota FedEx Freight 195/10 501 Running
2 15 48 Jimmie Johnson Chevrolet Lowe's 175/5 501 Running
3 21 42 Juan Montoya Chevrolet Target 170/5 501 Running
4 41 18 Kyle Busch Toyota M&M's Halloween 165/5 501 Running
5 2 24 Jeff Gordon Chevrolet NationalGuard.com / DuPont 160/5 501 Running
6 23 26 Jamie McMurray Ford Crown Royal 150/0 501 Running
7 1 39 Ryan Newman Chevrolet U.S. Army 151/5 501 Running
8 4 5 Mark Martin Chevrolet Kellogg's / Carquest 147/5 501 Running
9 13 14 Tony Stewart Chevrolet Old Spice / Office Depot 138/0 501 Running
10 10 29 Kevin Harvick Chevrolet Shell / Pennzoil 134/0 501 Running
11 24 83 Brian Vickers Toyota Red Bull 130/0 501 Running
12 7 20 Joey Logano * Toyota Farm Bureau Insurance 127/0 501 Running
13 8 96 Bobby Labonte Ford DLP 124/0 501 Running
14 32 17 Matt Kenseth Ford Dewalt 121/0 501 Running
15 22 31 Jeff Burton Chevrolet Caterpillar 123/5 501 Running
16 5 00 David Reutimann Toyota Aaron's Dream Machine 120/5 501 Running
17 37 2 Kurt Busch Dodge Miller Lite 112/0 501 Running
18 6 07 Casey Mears Chevrolet Jack Daniel's 109/0 501 Running
19 19 33 Clint Bowyer Chevrolet BB&T 106/0 501 Running
20 29 99 Carl Edwards Ford Aflac 103/0 501 Running
21 40 19 Elliott Sadler Dodge Best Buy 100/0 500 Running
22 14 6 David Ragan Ford UPS 97/0 500 Running
23 30 98 Paul Menard Ford Schrock Cabinetry / Menards 94/0 500 Running
24 9 43 Reed Sorenson Dodge McDonald's Monopoly 91/0 500 Running
25 20 16 Greg Biffle Ford 3M Filtrete 93/5 500 Running
26 27 34 John Andretti Chevrolet A&W All American Food 90/5 499 Accident
27 34 47 Marcos Ambrose Toyota Little Debbie / Kingsford / Clorox 82/0 499 Running
28 3 1 Martin Truex Jr. Chevrolet Vaseline Men Body Lotion 79/0 499 Running
29 12 88 Dale Earnhardt Jr. Chevrolet Amp Energy / National Guard 76/0 499 Running
30 36 55 Michael Waltrip Toyota NAPA Adaptive One 73/0 497 Running
31 18 82 Scott Speed * Toyota Red Bull 70/0 495 Accident
32 26 9 Kasey Kahne Dodge Budweiser 67/0 494 Running
33 11 12 David Stremme Dodge Penske Racing 64/0 439 Rear End
34 16 44 A.J. Allmendinger Dodge Coleman Natural Foods 61/0 414 Running
35 38 09 Sterling Marlin Dodge Miccosukee Resort & Gaming 58/0 355 Brakes
36 31 77 Sam Hornish Jr. Dodge Mobil 1 55/0 248 Accident
37 33 7 Robby Gordon Toyota Schrock Cabinetry / Menards 52/0 130 Drive Shaft
38 28 187 Joe Nemechek Toyota NEMCO Motorsports 49/0 52 Overheating
39 35 171 David Gilliland Chevrolet TRG Motorsports 51/5 48 Brakes
40 39 66 Dave Blaney Toyota Prism Motorsports 43/0 38 Overheating
41 42 36 Michael McDowell Toyota Wave Energy Drink 40/0 36 Brakes
42 43 64 Derrike Cope Toyota Gunselman Motorsports 37/0 31 Brakes
43 25 37 Travis Kvapil Dodge Long John Silver's 34/0 30 Brakes

* Denotes Rookie

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