Jimmie Johnson leads a pack of cars en route to victory. More pictures in the Photo Gallery at the end of this page.
Johnson Edges Teammate Gordon at Line for Third Win of the Season
MARTINSVILLE, VA (April 1, 2007) - Jimmie Johnson and Jeff Gordon were teammates in name only on the final lap of the Goody’s Cool Orange 500 at Martinsville Speedway.
In reality, it was an “every man for himself” duel, and Johnson was the victor. Barely.
Johnson won his third race of the season – which equate to 30 bonus points when the top 12 drivers get re-seeded at the start of the Chase for the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup – and second consecutive race at Martinsville.
But the win did not come easy. Gordon – Johnson’s Hendrick Motorsports teammate – kept a close eye on Johnson throughout the end of the race and almost beat him to the finish line. On turn four of the last lap, Gordon ducked under Johnson’s No. 48 Lowe’s Chevrolet and made the finish a drag race to the line.
By the slimmest of margins – 0.19 seconds – Johnson won that race.
In more ways than one, Johnson owed the win to Gordon. Gordon could have easily roughed up Johnson and pushed him out of the way, but in the end showed respect for his teammate. Also, Gordon’s No. 24 team shared set-ups with a No. 48 team who had struggled during Saturday’s final practice.
Johnson’s day was a lesson in patience. Starting 20th, the reigning NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series champion methodically made his way through the field and finally took the lead with 113 laps to go in the 500-lap race. He did it by passing another teammate, Kyle Busch, on the inside – the preferred passing lane at Martinsville.
Dale Earnhardt, Jr. led the most laps with 137. He finished fifth.
Denny Hamlin, who led 125 laps but lost his lead during a prolonged pit stop on lap 218, finish third and Kyle Busch – last week’s winner at Bristol – finish fourth.
With the second-place finish Gordon increased his points lead over Jeff Burton to 28 and leads third-place Johnson by 60.
The race was held under a red flag temporarily on lap 376 because of rain.
Complete race results and point standings in the Event New Archive section following...
Post-Race Fast Facts
Event News Archive
Event Facts, Pre-Race
- Jimmie Johnson won the Goody’s Cool Orange 500, posting his 26th victory in 189 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series races.
- This is Johnson’s third victory and fourth top-10 finish in 2007.
- This is Johnson’s third victory and 10th top-10 finish in 10 races at Martinsville.
- Johnson has won at least three race in each of the six NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series seasons since he posted his career-first victory in 2002.
- Jeff Gordon finished second giving Hendrick Motorsports its second 1-2 finish of the season. The most recent 1-2 finish for Hendrick was Las Vegas when Johnson also won and Gordon finished second.
- Gordon has finished second in three of the six races this season and his only finish outside the top-10 was 12th at Atlanta.
- This is the seventh victory for Hendrick Motorsports in the past nine Martinsville races.
- David Ragan (15th) was the highest finishing rookie, followed closely by Juan Pablo Montoya in 16th.
- Chevrolet finished in the top-seven positions, the best finish by a manufacturer since Ford captured the top-seven positions at Las Vegas in the inaugural race there in 1998. That 1-7 sweep also occurred on April 1st. It was the best finishing sweep for Chevrolet since they took the top-nine positions at Darlington on April 13, 1980.
The Race: Goody’s Cool Orange 500
The Place: Martinsville Speedway
The Date: Sunday, April 1
Green Flag: 3 p.m. AT, 2 p.m. ET
TV: FOX, 2:30 p.m. AT, 1:30 p.m. ET
Track Layout: .526-mile oval
Distance: 500 laps/263 miles
2006 Winner: Tony Stewart
2006 Pole: Jimmie Johnson
Pre-Race On-Track Schedule (Local Time): Friday—Practice, 10:30-Noon. Qualifying, 3:45 p.m.; Saturday—Practice, 10-10:50 a.m. and 12:50-1:50 p.m.
Pre-Race Point Standings: click here
Qualifying: Friday, March 30 (SPEED at 4:30 p.m. AT, 3:30 p.m. ET)
Practice: Saturday, March 31 (SPEED at 11 a.m. AT, 10 a.m. ET)
Final Practice: Saturday, March 31 (SPEED at 1:30 p.m. AT, 12:30 p.m. ET)
Pre-Race: Sunday, April 1 (SPEED at 12:30 p.m. AT, 11:30 a.m. ET)
Race: Sunday, April 1 (FOX at 2:30 p.m. AT, 1:30 ET)
- Denny Hamlin won the Bud Pole for the Goody’s Cool Orange 500, his fifth Bud Pole 49 career NASCAR NEXTEL Cup races.
- Tony Stewart retains the Martinsville track qualifying record of 19.306 seconds, 98.083 mph – set Oct. 21, 2005.
- This is Hamlin’s first Bud Pole and third top-10 start in 2007.
- This is Hamlin’s first Bud Pole and third top-10 start – all top-fives – in four races at Martinsville Speedway.
- Hamlin became the seventh different Bud Pole winner at Martinsville since Jeff Gordon ended a streak of three straight in March 2004.
- Jamie McMurray qualified second, posting his best start since he started second at Sonoma in 2006. He also started second in this race in 2006.
- Ken Schrader (fourth) was the quickest of the 14 drivers required to make the field on time. It was Schrader’s best qualifying effort since joining Wood Brothers Racing in 2006 and the best for the Wood Brothers since Ricky Rudd started second here at Martinsville in October 2005.
- Four drivers posted their first top-10 start of the 2007 season: McMurray, Schrader, J.J. Yeley (ninth) and Johnny Sauter (10th).
- Juan Pablo Montoya (23rd) was the highest qualifying rookie-of-the-year candidate for the Goody’s Cool Orange 500.
- Michael Waltrip, Paul Menard, Kenny Wallace, Kevin Lepage, Brian Vickers and Ward Burton all failed to make the race.
Keys To Victory
- Martinsville Speedway is the smallest race track in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series and thus finds itself bursting at its .526-mile
seams this week, due to an overload of news making developments. To start, Sunday’s Goody’s Cool Orange 500 will be the second race of this season’s 16-race “rollout” of the “Car of Tomorrow,” following the “COT” debuting race on March 25th at Bristol Motor Speedway.
But that’s only part of this week’s picture.
- Martinsville also offers the second half of a “back-to-back short-track experience” for competitors, a scheduling situation
once commonplace in NASCAR NEXTEL Cup racing. The two-week slugfest was created two years ago via a schedule adjustment, giving
teams a unique early-season challenge.
- Jeff Gordon (No. 24 DuPont Chevrolet) is likely up to the challenge. He has seven career Martinsville victories – tops among active drivers and third-best all-time behind Richard Petty (15) and Darrell Waltrip (11). Fuel to his personal fire: Gordon comes in this weekend atop the series standings for the first time since winning the Daytona 500 to start the 2005 season.
- Sunday’s race, on paper, has the potential to be a high-profile showdown. The last 10 Martinsville races have been won by former NASCAR NEXTEL Cup champions, only one of which – Rusty Wallace – is no longer active. Last year’s winners were Tony Stewart (No. 20 Home Depot Chevrolet) (in the spring) and Jimmie Johnson (No. 48 Lowe’s Chevrolet) (fall); in 2005, Gordon won both events. And how about last year’s spring race top-five finishers: Stewart, Gordon, Johnson, Dale Earnhardt Jr. (No. 8 Budweiser Chevrolet) and Kyle Busch (No. 5 Kellogg’s Chevrolet).
- Richard Petty will handle the traditional Grand Marshal duties, including saying “Gentlemen, Start Your Engines” to start
- Dale Earnhardt Jr. is on the move. His seventh-place finish at Bristol moved him up to 17th in the series standings. He hasn’t
won at Martinsville but he has had six top-five runs, including last year’s fourth-place finish. "We've always been strong at
Martinsville, and all I want or expect from my guys is that we're in the ballpark when we unload that car,” Earnhardt said.
“If we're close, then we're going to be all right. Get me in the ballpark and I'll drive that thing as hard as I can.
The mindset at Martinsville is a lot like Bristol or at a road course: you try to stay out of trouble and survive until the
last 100 laps, and then you go racin' to see who's gonna take home the trophy. It’s good to have some momentum after a top-10
finish … and it's cool to see we've gained 24 spots in the points in the last three races."
Top 35 Guarantees Now Determined On Weekly Basis
- Might as well be listed as keys to survival. Much like last weeks race at Bristol, finishing at Martinsville is a bit of a
victory in and of itself. Of course, drivers do want more, namely, a trip to Victory Lane.
- Drivers must be able to manage and maintain their equipment. With the long straightaways and tight corners, racing at
Martinsville can be very hard on brakes. Rationing your brakes is a key to success. Martinsville races can put a lot of wear
and tear on drive line equipment. Whoever does the best job of taking care of their equipment has a good chance to be in the
hunt at the end of the race.
- Avoid getting caught up in individual battles. A driver has to realize they are going to get bumped and pushed around during a Martinsville race. It’s inevitable. They must put all that aside and focus on the big picture – and that’s keeping your car intact and putting yourself in a position to win at the end.
This past Sunday’s race at Bristol Motor Speedway was the fifth of the 2007 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup season. That meant the event had significance far beyond the fact that it was the first-ever race for the Car of Tomorrow.
For the first five races of a new season, the weekly guaranteed starting spots for the top 35 teams in car owner point standings are based on the previous season’s final point standings. After five races, the “locked-in” spots are based on current car owner points, creating a weekly drama for teams on the “bubble.”
Coming out of Bristol, the 35th and final guaranteed berth this week goes to the No. 70 Yellow Transportation Chevrolet owned by Gene Haas and driven by Johnny Sauter. There are some incredibly notable entries giving chase, testament to the increasingly competitive environment in NASCAR NEXTEL Cup.
In 36th heading into Martinsville, is the No. 4 State Water Heaters Chevrolet driven by Ward Burton, former Daytona 500 champion and owned by James Finch, 34 points out of 35th; former NASCAR Busch Series champion Brian Vickers is 38th, driving the No. 83 Red Bull Toyota owned by Dany Bahar; in 39th is the No. 44 UPS Toyota driven by former NASCAR NEXTEL Cup champion Dale Jarrett and owned by Michael Waltrip.
Photo Gallery - Sunday, April 1
Tony Stewart (20) and Dale Earnhardt Jr. (8) battle for position.
Jeff Gordon's No. 24 team make a quick pit stop.
Johnson (48) beat Hendrick Motorsports teammate Jeff Gordon to the finish line by less than a half car length.
Johnson celebrates in Victory Lane.
Photo Gallery - Friday, March 30
Current NASCAR Nextel Cup point leader Jeff Gordon (left) talks with Hendrick Motorsports teammate Jimmie Johnson (right)
during a break at Martinsville.
Clint Bowyer readies for qualifying.
For the second time this season, rookie David Reutimann bumped car owner Michael Waltrip off the starting grid for
Series sophomore Denny Hamlin won his fifth career Budweiser Pole Award; his first at Martinsville.
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