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Jimmie Johnson makes NASCAR history with 4 straight

As Denny Hamlin wins Homestead race
Sunday, November 22, 2009

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Jimmie Johnson
CIA Stock Photo
Done deal.

“How ’bout some history?!” Jimmie Johnson shouted as the crossed the finish line at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

No, Johnson didn’t win Sunday’s Ford 400. Denny Hamlin did. But Johnson accomplished something far more significant than a victory in a single event. His fifth-place finish was more than good enough to clinch his fourth straight NASCAR Sprint Cup Series title, breaking a tie with Cale Yarborough for most consecutive championships.

“History, boys,” Johnson continued. “No one ever—ever! I don’t know how to thank you guys. Thank you so much.”

Johnson’s title run also completed Hendrick Motorsports’ sweep of the top three positions in the final standings, the first time an organization has achieved that distinction. In winning his fourth Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup, Johnson finished 141 points ahead of Mark Martin, who entered Sunday’s race 108 points behind his teammate and finished 12th.

Jeff Gordon secured a third-place finish in the points with a sixth-place run.

All but lost in the hoopla surrounding Johnson’s record run was Hamlin’s fourth victory of the season and his second in the Chase. Surging into the lead after a restart on Lap 222 of 267, Hamlin crossed the stripe 2.632 seconds ahead of Jeff Burton, who posted his second straight runner-up finish and his fourth straight top 10.

Burton’s Richard Childress Racing teammate Kevin Harvick ran third, and Kurt Busch locked up fourth in the Chase standings with a fourth-place finish.

Gordon, Carl Edwards, Kyle Busch, Martin Truex Jr. and AJ Allmendinger completed the top 10.

After Hamlin did a celebratory burnout on the frontstretch, and the championship stage was rolled into position, Johnson did an elaborate burnout of his own that started near the entrance to pit road and continued down the front straightaway.

After the smoke settled, Johnson embraced the enormity of what he had just accomplished.

“The truth of it is, to do something that’s never been done in this sport—to love the sport like I do and respect it like I do—and the greats, Petty, Earnhardt, Gordon … to do something they’ve never done is so awesome. To win four championships in eight years, what this team has done … I don’t know where to start. It’s unbelievable.”

With his niece Alesha Gainey facing an emergency liver transplant in North Carolina, team owner Rick Hendrick wasn’t at Homestead to celebrate Johnson’s record and several others that accrued to the organization. Hendrick Motorsports won its ninth owners’ championship, tying Petty Enterprises for most all-time.

In addition, Hendrick won its aggregate 12th owners’ championship in NASCAR’s top three national series, a NASCAR best. Crew chief Chad Knaus extended his record number of consecutive Cup titles to four.

“Mr. H, buddy, we really wish you were here today,” Knaus radioed after the race.

Hamlin, who collected his eighth career victory, won from the 38th starting position in a No. 11 Toyota that improved as daylight turned to night, thanks to crew chief Mike Ford’s astute adjustments to the car.

Between the fireworks in the prerace ceremony and the champion’s burnout after the race, there were other pyrotechnics on the racetrack. Tony Stewart turned his No. 14 Chevrolet into Juan Pablo Montoya’s No. 42 Chevy, after the two cars made contact shortly after a restart on Lap 113.

Montoya pounded the Turn 3 wall and lost 27 laps while his crew repaired the car in the garage. After returning to the track, Montoya spun Stewart off Turn 4, sending him into the inside retaining wall. Stewart recovered to finish 22nd, and Montoya came home 38th.

Notes: After the race, Joey Logano was named Raybestos Rookie of the Year in the Cup series. … Truex made his last start for Earnhardt Ganassi Racing before moving to Michael Waltrip Racing next season. … Jamie McMurray finished 18th in his last run for Roush Fenway Racing. He’ll drive for Earnhardt Ganassi next year.

Results

FIN ST CAR DRIVER MAKE SPONSOR PTS/BNS LAPS STATUS
1 38 11 Denny Hamlin Toyota FedEx Express 195/10 267 Running
2 26 31 Jeff Burton Chevrolet Caterpillar 175/5 267 Running
3 6 29 Kevin Harvick Chevrolet Shell / Pennzoil 170/5 267 Running
4 12 2 Kurt Busch Dodge Miller Lite 165/5 267 Running
5 1 48 Jimmie Johnson Chevrolet Lowe's 160/5 267 Running
6 20 24 Jeff Gordon Chevrolet DuPont 150/0 267 Running
7 24 99 Carl Edwards Ford Aflac 146/0 267 Running
8 30 18 Kyle Busch Toyota M&M's 147/5 267 Running
9 14 1 Martin Truex Jr. Chevrolet Bass Pro Shops / Tracker 138/0 267 Running
10 13 44 A.J. Allmendinger Ford Ford. Drive one. 134/0 267 Running
11 10 33 Clint Bowyer Chevrolet Cheerios / Hamburger Helper 135/5 267 Running
12 4 5 Mark Martin Chevrolet Kellogg's / Carquest 127/0 267 Running
13 34 17 Matt Kenseth Ford Dewalt 124/0 267 Running
14 8 16 Greg Biffle Ford 3M 121/0 267 Running
15 22 00 David Reutimann Toyota Aaron's Dream Machine 118/0 267 Running
16 9 21 Bill Elliott Ford Motorcraft 115/0 267 Running
17 25 9 Kasey Kahne Dodge Budweiser 112/0 267 Running
18 11 26 Jamie McMurray Ford Crown Royal 109/0 267 Running
19 15 07 Casey Mears Chevrolet Jack Daniel's 106/0 267 Running
20 33 83 Brian Vickers Toyota Red Bull 103/0 267 Running
21 29 77 Sam Hornish Jr. Dodge Mobil 1 100/0 267 Running
22 5 14 Tony Stewart Chevrolet Office Depot / Old Spice 102/5 267 Running
23 7 39 Ryan Newman Chevrolet U.S. Army / All-American Bowl 94/0 267 Running
24 35 20 Joey Logano * Toyota Home Depot 91/0 267 Running
25 27 12 Brad Keselowski Dodge Penske Racing 88/0 267 Running
26 36 98 Paul Menard Ford Johns Manville / Menards 85/0 267 Running
27 2 82 Scott Speed * Toyota Red Bull 82/0 267 Running
28 32 88 Dale Earnhardt Jr. Chevrolet National Guard / Amp Energy 79/0 267 Running
29 17 202 David Gilliland Toyota Farm Bureau Insurance 76/0 267 Running
30 39 55 Michael Waltrip Toyota NAPA Auto Parts 78/5 267 Running
31 19 171 Bobby Labonte Chevrolet TaxSlayer.com 70/0 267 Running
32 16 78 Regan Smith Chevrolet Furniture Row Companies 67/0 267 Running
33 40 34 John Andretti Chevrolet Taco Bell / ETA Shuttle 64/0 267 Running
34 41 6 David Ragan Ford UPS 61/0 267 Running
35 3 47 Marcos Ambrose Toyota Little Debbie Cupcakes / Kingsford / Clorox 63/5 251 Running
36 31 96 Erik Darnell Ford Hall of Fame Racing 55/0 247 Running
37 28 37 Travis Kvapil Chevrolet Miccosukee Resort & Gaming 52/0 243 Running
38 23 42 Juan Montoya Chevrolet Target 49/0 235 Running
39 37 7 Robby Gordon Toyota Mapei / Menards 46/0 227 Running
40 42 43 Reed Sorenson Dodge Siemens 43/0 116 In Pit
41 21 19 Elliott Sadler Dodge Best Buy 40/0 116 In Pit
42 43 08 Terry Labonte Toyota FanCar 37/0 88 Out of Race
43 18 36 Michael McDowell Toyota Wave Energy Drink 34/0 35 In Pit

* Denotes Rookie

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