Jimmie Johnson Wins at Martinsville; Fifth Victory This Season Catapults Him to Third in the Chase, 41 Points Out of Lead; Chevy Claims Four of the Top-Five Finishing Positions in the Subway 500 Kevin Harvick Moves Up to Second in Points as Standings Jumble and Tighten Martinsville, Va. - Jimmie Johnson, No. 48 Lowe's Monte Carlo SS, picked up his fifth victory of the 2006 NASCAR Nextel Cup Series season and the 23rd of his career today in the Subway 500 at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway.
Chevrolet continued its dominance at the famed short track. Johnson's win is the 35th for a Bowtie driver in NASCAR's modern era, more than double the wins by the next manufacturer. It is the 20th victory for Chevy this season. Monte Carlo SS drivers captured four of the top-five finishing positions in today's race.
Johnson led 245 laps of the 500-lap race on the paperclip-shaped .566-mile Virginia track. It was his second victory at Martinsville which moved him from seventh in the Chase for the NASCAR Nextel Cup standings, 146 points behind the leader to third, only 41 points out of the top spot.
"It's a track that I came in and didn't think I'd ever get a hang of," said Johnson from Victory Lane. "With a great teammate like Jeff Gordon and a great race car that he let me come in and learn how to drive this track with and with the way he's worked with me and taught me how to understand and now I've had success here. It's a great team, a great mentor with Jeff helping me to understand this race track, and these guys on the 48 team work their butts off every time we're here giving me what I'm looking for. I'm happy to finish where we should have. We've been running up front the last three or four races and haven't been able to close the deal and today we did."
Raybestos Rookie contender Denny Hamlin, No. 11 FedEx Freight Monte Carlo SS finished second to Johnson. The pair waged a fierce battle the last five laps of the race with Hamlin, a Virginia native, doing all he could to grab the lead from the determined Johnson. Hamlin moved from sixth to fourth in the standings, only 47 points out of first.
Tony Stewart, No. 20 Home Depot Monte Carlo SS, remains firmly in 11th in the points with his fourth place finish in the Subway 500.
Jeff Gordon, No. 24 DuPont Monte Carlo SS, continued his string of Martinsville success with a fifth place finish in today's race. Gordon now sits ninth in the standings.
Bobby Labonte (Dodge) finished third to round out the top-five finishers.
Kevin Harvick, No. 29 GM Goodwrench Monte Carlo SS, again showed the strength of his Richard Childress Racing team by rallying from two tire rubs dropping him deep in the running order to finish ninth. The strong recovery moved Harvick to second in the standings, just 36 points behind current leader Matt Kenseth (Ford).
Kyle Busch, No. 5 Kellogg's Monte Carlo SS, dropped to 10th in the standings after a late-race spin netted him an 18th place finish.
Dale Earnhardt, Jr., No. 8 Budweiser Monte Carlo SS, suffered a similar fate when he spun on lap 478 while battling for sixth position. He currently sits sixth in the Chase standings with four races remaining.
After leading the standings for four consecutive weeks in the Chase, Jeff Burton, No. 31 Cingular Wireless Monte Carlo SS, suffered engine failure on lap 217 and was credited with the 42nd finishing position. He dropped to fifth in the standings, 48 points behind the top spot.
Chevrolet has locked up the 2006 Manufacturers' Cup. The standings following today's race are: Chevrolet, 246 points (20 wins); Dodge, 185 points (7 wins) and Ford, 177 points (5 wins).
Race number 33 of the season and the seventh race in the Chase will be October 29, 2006 at Atlanta Motor Speedway.
-credit: gm racing