Seeking immortality: JJ notches 50th in chase for Miami glory Nov. 21
Jimmie Johnson celebrates career victory No. 50 at Bristol. Johnson has never won at Homestead-Miami Speedway where a Champion will be crowned Nov. 21 (photo courtesy: Chris McGrath, Getty Images Sport)
In Race 5 of NASCAR’s 2010 Sprint Cup Series at Bristol, Jimmie Johnson won his 50th race—a rare accomplishment that further solidifies the four-time defending champion’s place among the all-time greats. Johnson—who is seeking glory in his “drive for five” at Homestead-Miami Nov. 21—changed all four tires on the final pit stop and passed two-time Cup Champion Tony Stewart for the top spot with four laps to go. Only 11 other drivers have reached the 50-win milestone.
“It was a 10-lap sprint to the end there,” Stewart said. “Jimmie had one of the best cars all day, and we had a good racecar, too. We just never really got off on restarts to get going.”
With a seventh-place finish at Bristol, Dale Earnhardt Jr. now sits eighth in the standings for the Sprint Cup Championship, which will be crowned at Homestead-Miami Speedway on Nov. 21. Earnhardt ran as high as fifth when a speeding penalty knocked him back to 25th with just 175 laps remaining but rallied and is in the Top 12 for the first time since the end of the 2008 season.
With his victory Sunday, Johnson removed Bristol from the list of tracks at which he never had won a Sprint Cup Series race. Another track on that short list: Homestead-Miami Speedway, where NASCAR will crown the Sprint Cup Champion Nov. 21.
"We have worked so hard for this," said an elated Johnson. “I thought we were in trouble there, but those four tires were everything. And I was in the outside line, which was helpful. It's about time."
The day's biggest wreck came on Lap 343 and involved 13 cars, including those of South Florida resident Juan Pablo Montoya and fan favorite Mark Martin, who got bumped by Greg Biffle. After hitting the wall, Martin swerved to the inside of the track heading into Turn 3 and was hit by Marcos Ambrose, who in turn hit Jeff Gordon and collected Brian Vickers, David Ragan, Montoya, Robby Gordon and a few other drivers who would continue on with damage.
"I was on the brakes, but we were hung together when I saw [Biffle] was going to shut me off," Martin said. "It is just a shame. Man, I think we had a car that I really believe could contend to win."
The next race in the pursuit of NASCAR’s Sprint Cup Series Championship—to be crowned Nov. 21 at Homestead-Miami Speedway—is slated for Sunday, March. 28, at Martinsville, and will be broadcast on FOX at 1 PM.
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.
MotorRacingNetwork.com contributed to this report.
On the Move: South Florida’s Montoya
“You’ve got to bring the car home”
Juan Pablo Montoya was fast all weekend, qualifying sixth and running second in Happy Hour but was unable to outrun trouble at Bristol. Montoya was threatening to record his first oval victory on Sunday before getting collected in a wreck. Just prior to the race, he shared his thoughts on raised expectations in 2010 after making last year’s Chase.
“It's different because we're not running 12th every week; we run fifth, fourth, third or we can lead and we can fight for wins now,” said Montoya. “It's a little bit different. But you've still got to bring the car home.”
That didn’t happen in Race 5 at Bristol, as Greg Biffle and Mark Martin got together late in the race triggering a multicar wreck involving Montoya and 10 other drivers. The South Florida resident was strong early and led four times for 29 laps before being caught up in the mishap and limping to a 26th-place finish. Entering Race 5, Montoya was in 21st position and had tallied more points than the No. 42 team had at the same point last year.
"We are ahead of where we were last year, and we've got faster cars so we should be OK,” said Montoya. “This year we should have had four Top 5s so far or four Top 10s so far—and we don't. We have two, and two DNFs. But even like that, with two DNFs, we are ahead of where we were last year."
Montoya continues his pursuit of NASCAR’s Sprint Cup Series Championship—to be crowned Nov. 21 on his “home track” of Homestead-Miami Speedway—on Sunday, March. 28, at Martinsville. The race will be broadcast on FOX at 1 PM.
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