Martinsville, VA -- Three-time and defending NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) champion Jimmie Johnson scored his first victory of the 2009 season in the Goody's Fast Pain Relief 500 at Martinsville Speedway. Johnson's victory came on the 25th ...
Martinsville, VA -- Three-time and defending NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) champion Jimmie Johnson scored his first victory of the 2009 season in the Goody's Fast Pain Relief 500 at Martinsville Speedway. Johnson's victory came on the 25th anniversary of Hendrick Motorsports first-ever NSCS win, also at Martinsville Speedway with driver Geoff Bodine.
The victory kept Chevrolet on top of the 2009 NSCS Manufacturers' Cup standings with six races in the record books.
A total of 10 of the last 13 NSCS races at Martinsville have been won by a driver from Hendrick Motorsports and the 18th win at the track for team owner Rick Hendrick.
The win is Johnson's 41st NSCS career win, his sixth win and 14th top-10 finish at Martinsville. He now has more wins at the historic Virginia race track than any other track on the circuit. The victory jumped Johnson five positions in the standings to fourth.
Seven of the top-10 finishers and nine of the top-12 were behind the wheel of a Chevy Impala SS race car.
Tony Stewart, No. 14 Old Spice/Office Depot Impala SS, finished third to give the newly formed Stewart-Haas Racing the best finish of its young existence. Stewart's teammate, Ryan Newman, No. 39 U.S. Army Impala SS, finished sixth after starting 27th in today's 500-lap race on the .526-mile track. Stewart and Newman sit seventh and 18th in the standings respectively.
Jeff Gordon, four-time NSCS champion, brought his No. 24 DuPont Impala SS, to the checkered flag in fourth position to remain on top of the driver's point standings.
Clint Bowyer, No. 33 BB&T Impala SS, finished third today to move to second in the standings with three top-five and four top-10 finishes this season.
Mark Martin, No. 5 CARQUEST/Kellogg's Impala SS, finished seventh Mfollowed by fellow Hendrick otorsports driver Dale Earnhardt, Jr. No. M88 AMP Energy/National Guard Impala SS, in eighth.
Kevin Harvick, No. 29 Shell/Pennzoil Impala SS, finished 11th to move to 10th in the standings and Juan Pablo Montoya, No. 42 Target Impala SS, finished 12th.
Team Chevy has five drivers in the top-12 in points with Jeff Burton, No. 31 Caterpillar Impala SS, in 13th, just seven points out of the coveted Chase field. Montoya is just 24 points behind Burton.
JIMMIE JOHNSON, NO. 48 LOWE'S IMPALA SS -- Winner
TAKE US THROUGH THE PASS FOR THE LEAD; IF THAT HAD BEEN DONE TO YOU, WOULD IT HAVE BEEN OKAY? "I don't know how Denny (Hamlin) got inside of me on that one restart. I felt like I was a little better and sure enough he was there and he had the lane and we raced hard from there. And then trying to come back and get him, I had a little bit better car on the longer run and I was patient and set him up, set him up, got inside of him. I assume that he knew he ran me down because he didn't come back down in Turn 1 and dump me. So he tried to put the squeeze on me and I was up on the curb and sliding; we got together and he did a hell of a job saving it. I thought I was going around too and fortunately we had enough distance where we were to the next guy to not have any trouble or lose any spots.
"But I'm out of breath (laughs). That was just a fun day. We didn't have the best car at the start. We opted to lose track position and to work on the car."
WHAT DID YOU DO TO FIX THAT CAR? "The first couple of things we did, we put spring rubbers in the right rear and we lost track position and it didn't really help. And then as the day went on (crew chief) Chad (Knaus) kept playing with tire pressure and wedge and we got the car right. It's such a special day for Rick (Hendrick), the 25th year in the sport, to come back to the same track on the same weekend and win again, we're just really proud."
FIVE OUT OF SIX WINS AT MARTINSVILLE IN THIS SERIES SEEMS IMPOSSIBLE. HOW HAVE YOU DONE IT? "With good people like Mr. Hendrick and his entire organization and all the support from Lowe's. And I'm very excited to give the Lowe's fans something to cheer for today and all the fans of the No. 48 and of Hendrick Motorsports. It's teamwork. It's about people and we work hard to make it right."
LET'S START WITH THE PASS FOR THE LEAD. "I just took my time. I felt like I was a little bit better than the No. 11 (Denny Hamlin) on the long haul and I was able to stay with him and get closer and closer. I went into turn three and got inside of him and just starting racing. I think he was trying to not leave me a lot of room which is what you do. Before I knew it I was up on the curve and we made contact and sliding sideways. It certainly wasn't something intentional. I was just trying to get in there and get the win. I was in there and he was coming down and made some contact. Thankfully neither one of us spun out and he was able to recover and finish second."
HOW IN THE WORLD DID YOU SAVE IT? "At first I lost it and I thought well that's it and the car caught itself. Then I lost it again when I got in the marbles and again thankfully nobody was right on us so that we could recover and get going and carry on. That was a slide for a really long time and I'm glad that both cars stayed straight."
NOW LETS TALK ABOUT THE ONE WHERE DENNY HAMLIN DID GET UNDER YOU ON THAT RESTART, DID HE SURPRISE YOU? "Yeah, I thought I got a good start. I didn't really spin the tires and got through the gear box well and before I knew it I heard him inside. He timed it just right and got a great launch off the green flag and got inside of me. At that point I was pretty mad at myself. I really wanted to win this for Mr. Hendrick. Twenty-fifth year in this sport and I wanted to try to back it up for him today."
HOW ABOUT THE EARLY PROBLEMS THAT YOU HAD, WHAT HAPPENED THERE AND TALK ABOUT WHAT YOU AND CHAD DID TO OVERCOME THEM? "We felt like we were a little bit off so we decided to come in and work on the car. Unfortunately we lost a lot of track position and I had to work really hard to get back to the front. We stayed after it and made good adjustments. Thankfully we worked on it early so that we could have a car to race with at the end."
TONY STEWART, NO. 14 OLD SPICE/OFFICE DEPOT IMPALA SS, FINISHED 3rd:
YOU WERE READY TO POUNCE FOR THE WIN. AS THE DRIVER, ARE YOU MAD THAT YOU DIDN'T GET THE WIN, OR AS THE OWNER, ARE YOU HAPPY TO HAVE BOTH YOUR CARS FINISH IN THE TOP SIX? "Well, both. I was thinking about four laps before it happened down there in (Turns) 3 and 4 that if they had a problem that we were right there in the catbird seat and I was just too far back when they had their problem. But I'm just real proud of our guys on the Old Spice / Office Depot team and real proud of Ryan (Newman) and his U.S. Army team. We both had a great weekend. This is a place I like, obviously, and we're back up there running where we belong."
YOU'VE HAD A COUPLE OF EIGHTH-PLACE FINISHES YOUR NOW IN THE TOP-FIVE YOU'RE GETTING CLOSER. "Yeah and Ryan (Newman) had a good day too. He had to work a lot harder than we did coming from the back. I'm really proud of Darian Grubb (crew chief) and all the guys on the Old Spice/Office Depot team and Ryan and Tony Gibson (No. 39 crew chief) and those guys on the U.S. Army team. We had a really good weekend and I'm really proud of these guys."
LAST 15 LAPS OR SO YOU SAW JIMMIE (JOHNSON) AND DENNY (HAMLIN) GET TOGETHER WHAT WAS GOING THROUGH YOUR MIND? "I was just cussing at myself because I wasn't close enough to do anything about it. I was sitting there thinking about three laps before it happened if something happens we're in the right spot I just wasn't close enough to them to take advantage of it. I saw Jimmie making the moves on the bottom down there and I knew that Denny wasn't going to give it to him easy so I knew there was a lot of potential for that to happen."
JEFF GORDON, NO. 24 IMPALA SS, FINISHED 4TH:
"Looking back on it now, that little bit of practice we got on Friday probably hurt us because it was a little bit different right-side tire that Goodyear brought here and we were really loose on Friday. So we tightened it up a bunch and I just never could really get the car through the middle (of the turn). I was good in clean air and there at the beginning when it rubbered up, we were just too tight. Jimmie (Johnson) is just so good. That whole team is just so good, and so is Denny (Hamlin). I was just really impressed with him today. We were the third best car. Unfortunately on that last restart, I just couldn't get around the lapped cars and catch Tony (Stewart). But still another great top 5 for the DuPont Chevrolet and a heck of a race for the win and I think the fans certainly got a great show. I'm thankful for them to come out here at Martinsville. So now we'll leave the short tracks and go to Texas. We seem to be better at those tracks than we are at short tracks. I'm looking forward to seeing what we have there."
YOU HAD AN AWESOME RACE CAR THERE AT THE BEGINNINGOF THE RACE, HOW MUCH DID THE TRACK CHANGING CHANGE YOUR CAR? "Yeah it changed quite a bit. That's what we were afraid of. We were so good in practice on Friday that it seemed like the tires were going loose. The set up that we went to was just so strong in practice that it was hard to get away from it. Now looking back on it a little bit of practice only hurt us. You know Jimmie (Johnson) is so good here. He really has just dominated and taken a hold of this place. Both he and Denny (Hamlin). I was real impressed with Denny today as well. We were the third best car with the DuPont Chevrolet and I was hoping that number one pit stall we could take advantage of it. On the long runs we lost the handle on it that one time. We were great there on the short runs just couldn't do anything on the outside there. Great run, great team effort and another great top-five for this DuPont Chevrolet. As always at Martinsville the fans here are the best. I've got to thank all of them for coming out today. I think they saw a great race."
WHEN YOU SLIPPED FROM SECOND TO FIFTH LATE IN THE RACE, WERE YOU JUST HANGING ON? "No, just making adjustments and got off there at the end. Me and Jimmie (Johnson) got to racing and he was in a hurry to get to the front and I came up on some lapped cars and didn't clear them as quick as I wanted to. Once he got underneath me, it pushed me to the outside and I wasn't very good on the outside. Then a train of them came. We were better than that. That was pretty much the end of our race at that point. That number one pit stall can help you but it can't take your from fifth to first. It might be able to take you from fifth to third or something like that. I knew if we were second or third coming in the pits, we had a shot at winning the race just by the pit location and my pit crew. We just slipped back that one time, we were just real tight all day once the rubber laid down on the track just way too tight in the middle of the corner."
WHAT IS NEXT STEP FOR THIS TEAM TO CLOSE THE DEAL ON A WIN? "It is great to run in the top-five but if we are going to contend for the championship especially in those final 10 races, we got to start winning races. I am not really concerned with this streak of how many wins we haven't had in a row. I am more concerned with what we have to do this year to win races and win this championship. You certainly don't want to give that No. 48 momentum. I know that we are capable of winning. We have a team capable of it. I thought we were going to do a lot better than we were today."
HEADING TO TEXAS, YOUR THOUGHTS. "I am actually looking forward to going to Texas and see how good this stuff that we have been running at the other mile and a halfs that has worked so well that we almost won with and see what we can do at Texas. I am not concerned about Texas. I am a little more concerned about the fact that we didn't run better here today at Martinsville."
DALE EARNHARDT, JR., NO. 88 AMP ENERGY/NATIONAL GUARD IMPALA SS, FINISHED 8th:
"It was an all right day. We didn't have as good a car as I wanted to have, but we worked on it all day and the guys stayed positive. Just right there at the end, we weren't as good as we needed to be.
"We were a pretty good car all day and made some adjustments there at the end that weren't helping the car. We weren't able to finish where we should have, we were a top-five car most of the day I thought. Kind of unfortunate, not real happy about that finish.
HENDRICK TEAMS HAD ALL FOUR OF YOU IN THE TOP-10, YOUR THOUGHTS: "I am happy for Rick and they got a win, especially for that company. I am glad to be a part of it. This is excellent equipment, we just got to know what to do with it. We got to get a little bit better as team to compete. The stuff is right there in front of us man, we just gotta figure out what to do to make it work."
WHAT WAS THE PROBLEM WITH THE TRANSMISSION? "Our transmission wouldn't stay in gear, we got a bungee cord and it held it gear the rest of the day so no problems. It popped out of gear so they put the bungee cord on it and it held it."
GOOD POINTS DAY? "Yea. That is what we are looking at right now. It seems like every race we go to, we are about five spots off of where we were last year and I don't know why that is and it very frustrating. But we are working hard."
JEFF BURTON, NO. 31 CATERPILLAR IMPALA SS, FINISHED 15th:
"This certainly wasn't our best effort. The Caterpillar Chevy wasn't terrible, we just couldn't get it to where we wanted it to be. Track position is key at a place like this so I'm glad we were able to keep ourselves in decent shape. I'm proud of this team. They never quit and keep their heads held high."
KEVIN HARVICK, NO. 29 SHELL/PENNZOIL IMPALA SS, FINISHED 11th:
"It was an OK day for us. I thought we would have run a little better. The car was pretty good. It just wasn't as fast as we needed it to be. Track position was everything today, as usual. Again, a pretty good day, but we were hoping for better."
JUAN PABLO MONTOYA, NO. 42 TARGET IMPALA SS, FINISHED 12TH:
"We practice real good on Friday and had hoped for a good qualifying run. The rain situation hurt us from having more practice times. We had one bad run today and it set us back. We got our lap back and battled for a top-15 finish. Proud of the Target crew for all their hard work.."
DAVID GILLILAND, NO. 71 CAPITAL WINDOW/TRG MOTORSPORTS CHEVROLET IMPALA SS, FINISHED 36TH:
"Real tough day. It didn't turn out the way that we wanted it to at all. You will have days like this. Everyone at TRG Motorsports worked real hard to get this car to the track this week. We had some brake issues. The heat from the brakes would melt the bead on the tire and we blew two right fronts today. We need to go back and work on our brake cooling package. We weren't the only ones with that problem. We will have to be better next time. That put us out of the top 35 in owner points.
"This means we will have our work cut out for us next weekend at Texas. We will get her in the show and put the team back in the top 35 in owner points next weekend."
RYAN NEWMAN, NO. 39 U.S. ARMY IMPALA SS, FINISHED 6th:
YOU HAD A DIFFERENT CAR THE SECOND HALF OF THE RACE AND IT APPEARED WHEN A SECOND RUBBER WAS ADDED TO THE RIGHT-REAR SPRING THE CAR TOOK OFF? "I knew we had a good U.S. Army Chevy from practice and it was just a matter of getting it right and being patient. The guys did a good job making adjustments and we made a lot of changes today. The pit stops were good -- the bottom line is we stayed headstrong and got our positioning back and got up to sixth. A good run for both Stewart-Haas Racing cars today. The first half of the race the car was really, really tight. There wasn't much I I could do with it. There at the end it came to us and we had a pretty good long run car too. We just made the best of it today."
YOU KICKED IT INTO ANOTHER GEAR DURING THE LAST 10 LAPS, PASSING THE 88 AND THE 5 ON THE LAST LAP TO FINISH SIXTH? "We had to -- I was in position to do it and I did. We put ourselves in that position, made the moves and it worked. We're progressively getting better -- each race has been better all year long. There's something to be said for that. We had two Stewart-Haas cars finish in the top 10 today, hopefully that's a sign of things to come.
RICK HENDRICK, OWNER, HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS:
"You know, I don't really know. I remember when my dad and I were down here and I think he was 63 and Richard Petty gave me his autograph right at Turn 4 through the fence. I came in with Ray Hendrick and ran the Modifieds and this place has got a lot of heritage. and Harry Hyde and Geoff Bodine and all the people over the 25 years have contributed so much. And it's unbelievable. I wasn't here, I guess it was 25 years ago and I had to call my mom on a pay phone to find out what happened and it's really neat to be here today and be a part of this. I'm real proud of the whole organization. Jimmie drove a heck of a race and all the (HMS) cars finished in the top 10. Denny (Hamlin) drove a heck of a race. You hate to see anybody lose a race like that. But the fans saw a good one today."
TWENTY-FIVE YEARS AGO TODAY YOU WENT TO VICTORY LANE FOR THE FIRST TIME, NOW YOU'VE BEEN HERE 176 TIMES, HAD A FEELING YOU MIGHT BE BACK HERE, TALK ABOUT HOW MUCH THIS WIN MEANS TO YOU. "Twenty-five years ago I wasn't here that day. Geoff Bodine to be here today is great. Twenty-five years later and win this race is a tribute to all the people over those twenty-five years and it was a heck of a race."
ALL OF YOUR CARS WERE IN THE TOP-10 TODAY, THAT'S GOT TO BE ICING ON THE CAKE. "Any time you come to a short track and can to that its a treat. I'm proud of the organization. They worked hard and it was a heck of a race."
CLINT BOWYER, NO. 33 BB&T IMPALA SS, FINISHED 5th:
ANOTHER GREAT TOP-FIVE EFFORT FOR YOU GUYS, HOW TOUGH WAS THE LAPPED TRAFFIC OUT THERE TODAY? "It's always tough. There's just no room and that's part of it. They belong out there just like we do. They're just down on their luck. THE BB&T Chevrolet was good. It was a solid run for us. If we just keep clicking these off we're going to be just fine.
"It was looking like I was getting close to the lead in that thing and I was getting pretty ansy but I just didn't have a chance to get it quite done."
DID YOU GUYS HAVE TO MAKE MANY ADJUSTMENTS ON YOUR CAR TODAY? "You know we didn't but we tried to tighten it up to get going with thinking that was what I was going to need and it cooled off a little bit too much and just got too tight there at the end. All in all it was a good, solid effort."
BOBBY HUTCHENS, DIRECTOR OF COMPETITION, STEWART-HAAS RACING. "It was an awesome day for Stewart-Haas. Tony (Stewart) ran up in the top five for most of the day and thank God Ryan (Newman) kept fighting and fought his way up through there and got our car pretty good. I think without a restart there were some guys on two tires, he may have also finished in the top five."
AS OPTIMISTIC AS YOU WERE GOING INTO THE SEASON, DID YOU EVER EXPECT TO BE AS GOOD AS YOU ARE RIGHT NOW OUT OF THE GATE? "No, I really we'd win a race in the first six (laughter), so we've been close. We've had us some good outings. Thank God that's the first week that we've had two cars that finished where there potential was."
WHAT DOES THAT SAY ABOUT THE PAST ROUGH TWO WEEKS FOR THE NO. 39 TEAM? "Well, you've got to give them credit. The whole time we were at Daytona, they could have all packed it in (but), they've all had their heads up. They've been digging and at the end of the day; hey, they're going to overcome this and they move up to 18th in points this week, so that's pretty big."
-credit: gm racing