NASCAR Final Race of 2009 Recap

Jimmie Johnson makes NASCAR History, wins 4th Championship, Denny Hamlin wins the race

11/22/09 in NASCAR   |   Debi_L   |   11875 respect

Homestead Miami.  It's the site of the final race of the season, and just like it's counterpart, Daytona, there are butterflies and excitement that builds before the race like no other.  I so wanted to be able to say the day dawned clear and bright with no chance of showers, but a glance at the radar showed that rain showers were a definite possibility.  There were five full hours of pre-race coverage, between SPEED and ABC.  Every possible scenario for the race was covered and there were approximately 4 Jimmie Johnson and Mark Martin interviews, taped at different times, asking many of the same questions over and over again. 

When it finally came time for the green flag to fly, there was no doubt about it, the fans and the drivers just wanted it to get underway.  In three short hours the 2009 Championship would be decided.

Opening ceremonies and pre-race chatter done, at 3:33pm ET the cars headed to the green flag and the first lap of the final race of the season, Jimmie Johnson leading the way.  Jimmie jumped right out to the front to lead the first lap, grabbing 5 bonus points and getting that out of the way, meaning he only had to finish 27th or better to win the Championship.  Marcos Ambrose proved to be the spoiler, early on, settling into second spot, between Jimmie and Mark Martin.

The non-Chasers and those Chasers with no chance were going for broke, with Tony Stewart, Clint Bowyer, Kevin Harvick, Dale Earnhardt Jr and Martin Truex Jr. in his final race for Earnhardt Ganassi Racing, all battling in the top ten.  The top three in the Chase, Jimmie, Mark and Jeff were not quitting though, and had settled in to the middle of the top ten.

Marcos Ambrose, so strong in the early part of the race, had had tire issues and gone many laps down.  He brought out the first caution at lap 82 when he got too close to the wall and into the marbles.  Pit stops ensued, with Kurt Busch being the big gainer and Truex Jr and Dale Jr being the biggest losers. 

And the green flag flew again, with Montoya moving forward, a man on a mission.  Jeff Gordon was moving in the opposite direction, with a suspected flat tire. The team was reluctant to bring him in, of course, but he fell back to 15th before the tire pressures increased and Jeff got back up to speed..

By lap 100, there was no longer sun on the track and cars that had been slower started moving forward while those who hadn't been running strong seemed to fall off just a little.  The second caution flew when the 34 car blew a tire.  All the drivers pitted and strategy games began in earnest.

Emotions showed for Jimmie Johnson during the caution laps, as he requested his spotter speak with the 33 spotter.  He felt that Clint Bowyer was racing him a little too hard, and wanted to pass that message on.  Chad Knaus spoke up and told the spotter to stay right where he was, not to start anything.  When the green flag flew again, Jimmie found out he hadn't seen anything yet, with both Clint and Juam Pablo Montoya racing him hard.   Fortunately for Jimmie, Marcos Ambrose brought out the third caution.  Dale Earnhardt Jr spent a lot of time in the pits, trying to fix his car.  Jr had gotten into the wall at least twice so far in the race and, the team thought, had knocked the setup out. 

Jimmie found himself surrounded by agressive drivers when the green flag flew again, being chased by Tony, Juan and  Kyle Busch.  Jimmie just tried to stay out of the way when Juan and Tony made contact with Montoya gettng the worst of the hit, hitting the wall after he cut down a tire.  The caution flew and everyone came in, but Elliott Sadler didn't even make it to the pits.  Paul Menard slowed dramatically at the entrance to pit road, and the most bizarre chain reaction followed, with the 43, along with the 19 suffering race ending damage.   Michael Waltrip and Robby Gordon were also involved.

Good news for Tony Stewart, his car wasn't seriously damaged in the contact with Juan, but the 42 Target car needed extensive repairs and remained in the garage.

Kevin Harvick and the rest of the RCR cars continued their dominance, replacing the Roush Fenway Racing cars from last year.  Johnson, Martin and Smoke were back outside the top twenty on the restart, struggling to get through the pack.

Coming to the halfway point of the race, the leader was Kurt Bush, with Kevin Harvick and  Denny Hamlin  following while Jeff was running 7th , Mark and  Jimmie were back fighting their way through the pack, having moved into the teens.  Dale Earnhardt Jr cut a tire and pitted, losing a lap and his hopes for a win before the end of the season.
Notify me by email about comments that follow mine. Preview

11/26/09   |   mnstar1959   |   376 respect

Next year after he wins his 5th in a row... Everyone is going to have to start putting him in the conversation as the best of all-time. With in the next 4/5 years JJ will be known as the greastest driver ever.

That is VERY possible!

11/23/09   |   juliemarie_84   |   83 respect

i'm not a fan of jimmy's but you have to give credit when credit's deserved. i think it's awesome he's won 4 championships in a row. his crew chief & him are quite a team.

11/23/09   |   Alpha_Dawg   |   1258 respect

congrads to jimmie, he was the class of the field during the chase. Its always awesome seeing history made. Glad Mark had a great season as well. Just a little short of the championship. nothing to hang his head about. Can't wait till the daytona 500.

11/23/09   |   suedon70   |   144 respect

Congrats to Jimmie & Chad, who'll go down in history as one of if not THE best driver/crew chief teams in NASCAR

11/23/09   |   Frankie_D   |   290 respect

Jimmy could go down as the best Nascar racer of all time before his career is over. Can he make it 5 in a row next year? Probably the way he dominates the Chase every year. I think that Nascar needs to change the tracks every year for the Chase. Put Bristol as one of the races. Anyway, Congrats to Jimmy and the team eventhough I was rooting against him. Would of loved to see Mark Martin win it.

11/23/09   |   ILoveSmoke   |   3 respect

It was well deserved!  Congratulations to JJ and his entire team!!!

11/23/09   |   Daniel_and_Becca   |   200 respect

Congratulation Jimmy

11/22/09   |   blondie45044   |   5873 respect

This is awesome for several reasons.
1. Your article rocked.
2. History to share with grandsons.
3. Race fans every where are showing appreciation, for someone other then their own.
4. Jimmy worked hard and achieved a goal of winning and making history.

My prayers go out to the family and friends of the family.

I also send out my prayers for those Nascar fans who will have withdraws until the next race.

Thanks Debi for all you do! You rock so do your articles! 

11/22/09   |   Debi_L   |   11875 respect

Gotta admit, it looks pretty good on him

11/22/09   |   Debi_L   |   11875 respect

It was evident that the Hendrick employees were trying to keep the reasons for Rick's absence a private one, preferring to refer to it as a family emergency.  As we all know, the media can be like a dog with a bone and announced the reason for his absence a few times, although the HMS Employees NEVER did. 

Prayers are with the family.

11/22/09   |   Debi_L   |   11875 respect

MissAJrFan wrote:
...just over 83 days till Daytona... [sigh]

Just think, that's LESS than three months! Oh happy days!

11/22/09   |   MissAJrFan   |   207 respect

...just over 83 days till Daytona... [sigh]

11/22/09   |   Debi_L   |   11875 respect

I'm already feeling withdrawals - Why does that happen!!!!

11/22/09   |   BigTone2475   |   326 respect

Jimmie is the man!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

11/22/09   |   mnstar1959   |   376 respect

Congrats to Jimmie and the 48 team. They showed they were best again. Here's hoping Jeff and the 24 do it next year!

11/22/09   |   volvo18   |   101 respect

It has been a good season.Congrates to the 48 team.Ready to head to Daytona.

11/22/09   |   kantwistaye   |   4219 respect

Although he only had one win, his team did make some good strides so overall a good year for Jeff Gordon.  Have to say I'm pretty happy about the Hendrick 1-2-3.  However, under the old points system Gordon would've finished 2nd so once again the Chase is screwing him over*.

*last statement was only partly sarcastic

11/22/09   |   Scott   |   54783 respect

Hard to believe that the season is over.  Thank God for college basketball to keep me busy til Nascar comes around again in Feb.  Jimmie Johnson by far was the most consistent driver in the series this season.  The 48 bunch has there stuff together and they know exactly what it takes to get into the chase and then to dominate and win the chase. 

11/22/09   |   Jay_B   |   193 respect

Jimmie Johnson is in the same class of Superior Athletes like all the others in their sports!!! This dude is dominant!!!