JIMMIE JOHNSON RACES TOWARD HISTORY

Denny Wins at HMS

Denny Hamlin held off Matt Kenseth and Dale Earnhardt Jr. at Homestead-Miami Speedway for his first win of the season and notching at least one victory for the eighth consecutive year. The win was also his second victory at Homestead-Miami Speedway (photo courtesy: Harrelson Photography)

Jimmie Johnson finished ninth in tonight’s Ford EcoBoost 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway to secure the series championship by a 19-point margin over Matt Kenseth, who finished second in the race.  Johnson is the first driver to win six NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Championship titles in an eight-year span.

Going into the race, the driver of the No. 48 Lowe’s Chevrolet led the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup with 28 points over pole winner Matt Kenseth. Johnson needed to finish 23rd or better to capture the title. “I am so thankful to be able to drive for this race team, and so honored and so excited to have a six-pack,” said Johnson. “I don’t know how to describe it to be honest.”

With six NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Championships, crew chief Chad Knaus is second on the all-time crew chief championship list. “You can’t take wins for granted and you can’t take championships for granted,” said Knaus. “They’re so hard to achieve and you have to cherish each one of them.”

Johnson’s six championships have come in three distinctly different NASCAR Sprint Cup cars – including the Gen-6 Chevrolet SS that debuted this season. Johnson’s victory earned Hendrick Motorsports a record 11th series owner championship.

“It’s hard to win one of these and I’m really proud of Chad and Jimmie for getting six and the whole organization getting 11,” said team owner Rick Hendrick. “I never thought we would get one let alone 11. Every one is special and makes you hungry and continue to want more.”

Denny Hamlin topped Matt Kenseth by a 0.800 second margin to win the Ford EcoBoost 400, his first NASCAR Sprint Cup win in 2013. Tonight’s win gives Hamlin at least one win in each of his last eight NASCAR Sprint Cup Series seasons. “I think this does so much more emotionally to our confidence knowing that we can get back to the top,” said Hamlin. “For me it just makes me appreciate that opportunity that I have.”

As the race winner, Hamlin will leave Miami with a 25-foot Bay Boat from Homestead-based Contender boats. “They said I won a 25-foot Contender boat, so that’s awesome. It’s just a heck of a way to go out.”

Finishing in the 22nd spot, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. became the 2013 Sunoco Rookie of the Year.

Tonight’s race closes out the 2013 season of NASCAR racing. Homestead-Miami Speedway will again host Ford Championship Weekend and NASCAR championship races in its top three series from Nov. 14-16, 2014.  It will mark the 13th consecutive year NASCAR’s season finales will be held in Miami.

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