JJ Takes Martinsville: Win on 25th Anniversary of Hendrick's First Victory

Rob TiongsonSenior Analyst IMarch 29, 2009

MARTINSVILLE, VA - MARCH 29:  Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe's Chevrolet, does a burnout after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Goody's Fast Pain Relief 500 at the Martinsville Speedway on March 29, 2009 in Martinsville, Virginia.  (Photo by Rusty Jarrett/Getty Images for NASCAR)

On the 25th anniversary of car owner Rick Hendrick's first victory in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, Jimmie Johnson, driver of the No. 48 Lowe's Chevy Impala, captured Sunday's Goody's Fast Relief 500 at Martinsville Speedway.

The victory, which comes at the same facility in which Hendrick got his first trip to the Winner's Circle with driver Geoff Bodine, was your typical Jimmie Johnson triumph: steady progress all race long, helped by a final pit stop that leapfrogged Driver 48 to a prime spot for the win.

For a while, it appeared that Johnson was going to take the Goody's Fast Pain Relief 500 in anticlimactic fashion.

With the Lowe's team reeling off a lightning-fast pit stop for the three-time defending champion with just under 40 laps to go, the race was Johnson's to lose.

But perennial front runner Denny Hamlin, the pride of Chesterfield, Va., was not about to hand over the victory at the 0.526 mile track without a valiant challenge, and some help on a restart from teammate Kyle Busch, who was off the pace.

Hamlin would get around Johnson with over a shade of 40 laps remaining in the race, aided by teammate Busch, who held up Johnson.

The top-five drivers, consisting of Hamlin, Johnson, Tony Stewart, Clint Bowyer and Jeff Gordon, would remain the same for the remainder of the event.

With just under 15 laps left, Johnson tucked on the inside lane beside Hamlin, forcing him to the higher line and taking the lead and ultimate winning move of the race.

Johnson's first win of 2009 and his sixth career victory at the Virginia short track boosts the No. 48 team from ninth to fourth in the points standings, 142 markers behind teammate and points leader Jeff Gordon.

Clint Bowyer's stout and seemingly unnoticed fifth place gained him one spot in the rankings, now running second in the championship race.

Rounding out the rest of today's top 10 finishers at Martinsville were Hamlin, Tony Stewart, Gordon, Bowyer, Ryan Newman, Mark Martin, Dale Earnhardt Jr., A.J. Allmendinger, and Jamie McMurray.

NASCAR heads to Texas Motor Speedway next weekend for the Samsung 500, a track that has usually been the house of Roush Fenway Racing.

Carl Edwards, who struggled home to a 26th place finish in the 500 lapper at Martinsville, swept both races at TMS and looks to rebound from his down day on the short track.