Martin to JJ: “It’s Not Over Yet”
Johnson's misfortune at Texas allowed fan favorite Mark Martin to cut into the Championship points lead. Martin is within 73 points of the lead heading into Phoenix where Martin won in the Spring (photo courtesy: Chris Graythen, Getty Images Sport)
Chase Race 8 began with Jimmie Johnson holding a 184-point lead in the race for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Championship, to be crowned at Homestead-Miami Speedway Nov. 22. But when Johnson crashed on Lap 3 at Texas, Mark Martin seized the opportunity with a fourth-place finish that shaved 111 points off of his second-place deficit.
“In Phoenix we led the most laps and won the last time there,” Martin said in looking to Chase Race 9. “We can go head-to-head with them [Johnson and crew], and there’s no reason to think that we can’t run strong at Homestead[-Miami Speedway].”
“We were just in the wrong place at the wrong time,” said Johnson. “We didn't want this by any means, but we're still in a great position, and we'll go to Phoenix and race."
Amazingly, four drivers—Martin, Jeff Gordon, Kurt Busch and Tony Stewart—sit within 178 points of Johnson and the Nov. 22 Sprint Cup Championship in Miami. The maximum points a driver can make up in one race is 161 points, and Martin got more than two-thirds of that at Texas alone. He’s now got two more shots—Phoenix and Homestead-Miami—at shaking his four-times-a-bridesmaid label.
Next up, the Sprint Cup contenders head to Phoenix for Chase Race 9, where Martin will look to put another dent in Johnson’s goal of an unprecedented fourth consecutive Sprint Cup Series Championship, to be decided at Homestead-Miami Speedway Nov. 22.
Martin won at Phoenix and should have the edge over Johnson in Miami, as he long has been considered the top racer on the circuit at intermediate-length tracks and has a better career average finish at Homestead-Miami Speedway (12.0 to 13.6) than does Johnson.
"He might be the best there's ever been [on intermediates]," said team owner Rick Hendrick.
And this year’s Ford Championship Weekend at Homestead-Miami may be the best value in the history of NASCAR’s series-crowning weekend. Because fans can enjoy this year’s Championship finale on a $55 budget, thanks to FREE parking; an almost-to-good-to-be-true “Bring Your Own” policy; and unlimited re-entry for fans looking to restock their 6x6x12 cooler throughout the day.
DON'T MISS THE NASCAR HAULER PARADE
And on the track, this year’s Nov. 22 Sprint Cup Series Championship in South Florida has a ton to offer:
► 50-year-old fan-favorite Martin trying to capture his elusive first NASCAR Championship after 27 years of racing (and four Championship runner-up finishes)
► Tony Stewart seeking his third Sprint Cup Series Championship while also becoming the first driver/owner to win NASCAR’s biggest prize since Alan Kulwicki in 1992
► Jeff Gordon driving for a fifth Sprint Cup trophy for his mantle, which would put him just two behind all-time Championship leaders Dale Earnhardt Sr. and Richard Petty
► South Florida-resident Juan Pablo Montoya—the first non-American ever to qualify for the Chase “playoffs”—running among the Chase leaders in just his third full-time year in NASCAR
► And Johnson trying to make NASCAR history as the first driver ever to win four Sprint Cup Championships and separate himself from NASCAR legend Cale Yarborough, the only driver to win three straight Sprint Cup titles (1976-78)
Of course, there also will be 38 “other” drivers seeking the checkered flag at THE Championship Track’s 1.5 mile, 18-20 degree variable-banked oval.
And throughout the weekend, the party rages all around the Speedway. NASCAR Sprint Cup Champion Richard Petty will greet fans in an appearance at the Pit Road Box Seats. Legendary Champion Bobby Allison—of NASCAR’s celebrated “Alabama Gang”—will be on hand in the Coke Zero Fan Zone. And Gordon will make an appearance in the Premier Club.
In addition, with 2009 marking the 40th anniversary of man landing on the moon, Apollo 11 astronaut Buzz Aldrin and former Captain Jon A. McBride will be on hand to celebrate America’s space exploration. For tickets to all of these appearances, please visit THEChampionshipTrack.com or call (866) 409-RACE.
The stars of Hollywood also will be well-represented on Ford 400 Sunday with Tony Award-winning actress Anika Noni Rose of Dreamgirls fame singing the national anthem and Mike Rowe, host of Discovery Channel’s Emmy-nominated series Dirty Jobs with Mike Rowe, serving as Grand Marshal.
On Sprint Cup Sunday, fans can enjoy the ultimate on-track experience: the Pre-Race Track Pass (10 a.m. to 2 p.m.), which invites fans to walk the front stretch of one of the most technologically advanced racing facilities in America. Take pictures, participate in interactive displays, enjoy live entertainment and experience the thrill of NASCAR up close and personal. Pre-Race Track Pass’ers also will enjoy an exclusive look at the 2009 Sprint Cup Trophy, to be crowned smNov. 22 at THE Championship Track.
The live-band lineup on the Coca Zero Entertainment Stage will thrill music lovers of all types with Ghost of Gloria (“The Evidence”), a four-piece South Florida modern-rock band that draws its influence from the Foo Fighters, Incubus, Sevendust and Tool. Also taking the stage will be Fast Ryde, a country-music duo whose debut single "That Thang" hit the U.S. Billboard Hot Country Songs chart earlier this year.
Other action set for Ford Championship Weekend:
► A preview look at the 2010 Roush Fenway Racing Mustang NASCAR Nationwide Series car
► A Q&A session with NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver David Reutimann
► Jet-engine dragster racer Elaine Larsen on site for an appearance with the Hell on Wheels BMX team
► Performances by the Florida Marlins Mermaids and Florida Panther Ice Dancers
All of this and see them drive for just $55! Join us at Homestead-Miami Speedway for Ford Championship Weekend 2009! Tickets for the Sprint Cup Championship start at just $55 and are available by clicking here or by calling (866) 409-RACE.
DON'T MISS THE NASCAR HAULER PARADE NOV. 18