Hendrick Motorsports Out to Accentuate the “HM” in Homestead-Miami This Fall

Johnson Gambles at Vegas

Jimmie Johnson took four fresh tires to push underneath Jeff Gordon with 16 laps to go and led the rest of the way (photo courtesy: Stephen Dunn, Getty Images Sport)

Jimmie Johnson scored his second straight Sprint Cup Series win at Las Vegas Motor Speedway in Race 3 of NASCAR’s 2010 season, which culminates with Ford Championship Weekend at Homestead-Miami Speedway Nov. 19-21.

[Ticket renewals for Ford Championship Weekend 2010 are scheduled to mail in March. Stay tuned to THEChampionshipTrack.com for the general on-sale date for both NASCAR’s series-crowning weekend, as well as IndyCar Championship Weekend, set for Oct. 1-2 at Homestead-Miami Speedway.]

A call for four tires on the day's final pit stop proved to be the winning move as Johnson powered around teammate and fellow-four-time Cup Champion Jeff Gordon in the closing laps to take back-to-back wins after his victory at California a week ago.

Reigning Champion Johnson—who attained that distinction at Homestead-Miami Speedway in November—and his No. 48 Chevrolet won for his 49th victory in 294 Sprint Cup Series races. He now sits 12th in all-time wins, one behind NASCAR icons Ned Jarrett and Junior Johnson. Gordon started second and led 219 of 267 laps but finished third.

“When you get on the downforce tracks, we get going well and I'm happy that we're off to a quick start this year,” Johnson said. “A few years back, we left this race track with our tail between our legs. But today everything went well."

Mark Martin, who came to Miami last fall as the driver with the best chance to upset Johnson’s quest for four straight Sprint Cup Championships, was the third of three Hendrick Motorsports drivers to finish in the Top 5; Martin finished fourth in his No 5 GoDaddy.com Chevrolet.

"It was a great finish,” said Martin. “Just a great job by everybody on the GoDaddy.com Chevrolet—awesome race car at the end. We were off a little bit at the beginning; we weren't prepared for that sunshine and struggled for a long time. Then we got the car good there at the end. Alan [Gustafson, crew chief] and the guys just did a great job. We were pretty competitive there at the last."

Fan-favorite Martin and the rest of the Sprint Cup field will resume the pursuit for fall glory in Miami in Race 4 on March 7 (1 p.m. EST, FOX TV) at Atlanta Motor Speedway. All three of NASCAR’s premier racing series—the Sprint Cup, Nationwide and Camping World Truck Series—again will crown Champions during Ford Championship Weekend at Homestead-Miami Speedway (Nov. 19-21). For ticket information, stay tuned to THEChampionshipTrack.com or call toll free (866) 409-RACE.

Kids FREE: Homestead-Miami Speedway is the only venue ever to host all of North America’s premier motorsports Championships, and we’re doing it again in 2010 as THE Championship Track will be the site of both the IZOD IndyCar Championship (Oct. 1-2) and NASCAR’s Ford Championship Weekend (Nov. 19-21), as well as the Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series on March 6. Kids 12 & under are FREE to six of the seven races. For tickets and more info: (866) 409-RACE or THEChampionshipTrack.com.

MotorRacingNetwork.com contributed to this report.

South Florida's Montoya at Vegas

Montoya Troubles

South Florida’s Montoya in Race 3

Juan Pablo Montoya and his No. 42 Chevrolet were involved in a crash with teammate Jamie McMurray. After the accident with the 2010 Daytona 500 winner in Turn 3 of Lap 93 led to a 37th-place finish, the South Florida resident was less than pleased.

“[McMurray] runs straight into my [rear end],” said Montoya. “He nearly ran me into the fence in [Turn] 2 as well. I don't know; he's not doing himself any favors. I'm sure he is going to say, ‘Oh, I didn't mean that.’”

Speaking to his team on the radio shortly after the incident, Montoya used his own terminology to refer to his Earnhardt Ganassi Racing teammate McMurray as a “bad driver,” and the pilot of the No. 42 wasn’t much more understanding while being interviewed in the garage as repairs were being made to his Chevy.

McMurray—the Daytona 500 winner who is in his first year back with Chip Ganassi after four years at Roush Fenway Racing—said after the race that he didn’t mean it.

“I just got loose underneath him,” McMurray said. “Certainly, anyone that you’re going to try to race as clean as possible, [Montoya] would be that guy. I’m sorry to him and his team. I got up in there, and he turned in just a little bit earlier than I was expecting and then my car got really loose on entry.”

Montoya finished 20 laps down in his wounded car and finished 37th. After a strategic push to make last year’s Chase for the Sprint Cup—which was crowned at Homestead-Miami Speedway—Montoya has had back-to-back poor finishes on the heels of scoring a Top 10 at Daytona to kick off the 2010 season.

“For the Chase, this doesn’t help,” Montoya said. “We had a problem last week with the motor and this week this [happens]. It is painful.

“[McMurray] is just trying to prove to people he can drive a race car, and I guess he isn't doing too many favors on this [Earnhardt Ganassi] team.”

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