Johnson, Gordon, Martin finish in top 10 at Bristol
BRISTOL, Tenn. (March 22, 2009)—All four Hendrick Motorsports drivers finished in the top 14 during the 500-lap NASCAR Sprint Cup Series event at Bristol Motor Speedway on Sunday.
Jimmie Johnson, driver of the No. 48 Lowe’s Chevrolet, finished third, followed by points leader Jeff Gordon in fourth, pole sitter Mark Martin in sixth and Dale Earnhardt Jr. in 14th.
Gordon maintained his spot atop the standings after climbing from his 10th-place starting position on Sunday to finish fourth. Consistency—on the racetrack and pit road—helped Gordon record his third top-five finish and fourth top-10 of the season.
“I love the fight that these guys on this DuPont Chevrolet are putting up,” Gordon said Sunday. “I wish the Chase (for the NASCAR Sprint Cup) was right now because we’re in championship form.”
Johnson, who lined up third and led 88 laps, entered the 266.5-mile event determined to improve upon his previous outings at the short track.
“Really my guys sat me down a couple weeks ago, and we went through our data,” Johnson said after recording his first top-five finish of the season. “I made a wish list of what I wanted the car to do. Chad (Knaus) and the guys really gave me what I needed. I wish we could go race again for 500 more (miles) because a couple small adjustments, the rhythm I was picking up on the racetrack, things were really starting to make sense to me.”
Martin posted the fasted qualifying time on Friday to earn his second straight pole position. But this time, the NASCAR veteran was able to avoid misfortune in his No. 5 CARQUEST/Kellogg’s Chevrolet on race day, and he crossed the finish line in sixth, picking up the team’s first top-10 finish of the season.
“I had fun today,” Martin said afterward. “I just wasn’t happy with the car (Saturday) during practice, and I didn’t think we were going to be very good (during the race). We started the race, and we really weren’t very good. And one little change, and on the long run, that car was on fire.”
Earnhardt qualified 34th, but he had to drop to the back of the field after his team changed the transmission in his No. 88 National Guard/AMP Energy Chevrolet. Earnhardt climbed through the traffic on the short track to finish 14th.
“We worked real hard,” Earnhardt said. “We had great pit stops, and we just had terrible track position. I qualified really poorly. We had a good competitive car, a top-10 car for sure and just could never get there.”