Homestead Ford 400 Winners and Losers
Jimmie Johnson’s still on top even after fighting off his toughest challenge yet.
2010 has been a great season, and I’m looking forward to next year already.
Jimmie Johnson: He’s still “The Man.” For the first time since 2006, Johnson had a true fight on his hands during the Chase. In other years, he entered this final race with a nice cushion, allowing to focus on being mistake-free and cruise home. Not this year; Johnson entered this race trailing Denny Hamlin, potentially needing a win to solidify a fifth straight title. Johnson withstood the tests from all comers, and once again survived a somewhat dodgy day in the pits, and is now a five-time consecutive champion. And this one may be even sweeter, given the challenge he faced at Homestead. Nevertheless, it all boils back down to this one fact. Johnson is still “The Man,” and will be until someone can dethrone him.
Carl Edwards: Once again, he’ll have momentum on his side heading into next year, ending this season with back-to-back wins. Hamlin’s title push this year was started by a win here in 2009. Perhaps Edwards is setting himself up for such a run in 2011. Whatever of the case, Edwards is back on form and will be a tough contender next year. He challenged Johnson in 2008; could he be the first to beat him in 2011?
Martin Truex Jr.: If not for a flat tire, Truex Jr. may have been the victor. The only one who could run with Edwards the entire day, Truex Jr. led more than 60 laps before falling victim to a cut right-rear. However, he managed to fight back to 11th, nearly grabbing a top 10. About the only thing lacking from seems to be good luck; if his fortunes turn around, he and the team are good enough to make the Chase. It’s just a matter of catching the right breaks. Truex Jr. caught a bad one, but managed to rebound from it and the race in respectable fashion.
Aric Almirola/A.J. Allmendinger: With Richard Petty Motorsports scrambling to survive the offseason, it would have been easy for this group to give up and not try. Almirola and Allmendinger, though, showed the tough characters they are, finishing fourth and fifth for a team who (as of this writing) does not know if they’ll be around next year. The improvement each has shown has been outstanding and any team would line up at this point to sign if either is available. Almirola will in the Nationwide Series with JR Motorsports while Allmendinger hopes to stay in the Cup Series with Petty’s team. The future for this organization may be cloudy, but these two drivers have a lot to be proud of right now.
Denny Hamlin: It all cam apart in the worst way for the driver everybody thought would unseat Johnson. Hamlin’s car was one of the fastest in the early laps, as he carved from 37th to deep inside the top 20. But, his tangle with Greg Biffle started the downward spiral. Even though he did run as high as sixth afterward, he never was as fast as he was to start the day, and some bad luck with pit strategy put him and the team out of their misery. In all, there really isn’t anything they could have differently; they simply fell victim to circumstances. That can happen in racing, but they needed to avoid them today. And, quite frankly, they couldn’t.
Kevin Harvick: He went down fighting, just as he promised he would. However, perhaps he fought a little too hard. He all but admitted to intentionally spinning Kyle Busch, and the video seems pretty clear: Harvick simply drove into the left-rear corner of him. All the same, Harvick threw everything he had at Johnson and Hamlin to win this year’s a title. A speeding penalty (which negated a pit stop after which he held the lead) put paid his title hopes, though, and he had to take what he could get at the end of the day. Harvick put in a strong and relentless effort at Homestead, but like Hamlin, he just didn’t have anything for Johnson.
Jeff Gordon: An engine failure was a fitting way to end a disappointing season for Gordon. For the second time in three years, Gordon failed to post a victory and wasn’t a factor during the Chase. He and the team will regroup during the offseason, but this year will be one crystallized by his race at Las Vegas. That day, if you remember, he led more than 200 laps, but failed to close the win, finishing third. Circumstances never fell his way in 2010.
|Track Trash: Ho Hum Homestead||TV Times – Jimmie Johnson Wins Unprecedented 5th Sprint Cup In A Row|