Carl Edwards Dominates Ford 400 as Johnson wins Fifth Sprint Cup Championship in a Row
The final race of the 2010 Sprint Cup Series season lived up to all expectations as drama was seen throughout the entire race.
The race belonged to Carl Edwards as he dominated, leading the most laps, closing out the season with his second straight win.
"This is unreal!" Edwards said in victory lane. "This is great way to finish the season. Congratulations to Jimmie Johnson - five championships in a row; that's unreal. With the way we're going, we could start off next year and go for the championship. To finish like this is unreal.
"It's just these guys not giving up. They don't give up. They're unreal! We've had an unbelieveable run at the end of the season. It's a great way to the end season. I can't wait to go to Las Vegas and go home."
It didn't take long for the drama to start for the Chase contenders as on lap 24, Denny Hamlin took a wild slide through the infield grass after contact with Greg Biffle.
"16 just turned down right on us - right down on me." Hamlin said on the radio.
"I tried to give him room off the corner but we were 3-wide," Biffle said on his radio. "I was trying to give Paul room. You think he'd give me room when I'm 3-wide."
Hamlin's team repaired some of the damage, though things didn't look to improve as on lap 68, he felt something wrong with the car. He pitted early, which looked like it'd hurt him, yet instead he just started the pit cycle early.
During the pit cycle, Jimmie Johnson led a lap to get five bonus points, but when he came down pit road, his crew had a slow pit stop.
Hamlin didn't look to be gaining groun and suspiciously, the caution came out for debris on lap 97 that he pointed out. Once again, Johnson's borrowed crew was slow as they lost him three spots while Harvick gained two spots. Hamlin's team made some adjustments, yet didn't address the issue everybody was pointing at, being the right front fender.
At that point, also, Johnson was concerned with his teammate that didn't pit.
"Why did the No. 24 not pit with the lead lap cars?" He asked crew cheif Chad Knaus.
"Because they're blowing up." Knaus told him.
The restart came with 105 to go and already two laps later, Hamlin wasn't happy with the car.
"I am loose, extremely loose Mike," he told crew cheif Mike Ford. "Loose as it's been all day. I don't why its soo loose."
He added that there seemed to be too much pressure on the nose, which the fender that was sticking out seemed to be causing.
The No. 11 team caught a break as on lap 135, the caution came out for Marcos Ambrose spinning. This allowed them to put a new brace on the front of the car.
Meanwhile, this time Johnson's crew stepped it up for him as they gained him four spots giving him the fourth position while Harvick came off pit road in third.
The restart came on lap 141, though the caution quickly came back out as Joey Logano got turned into the outside wall by Juan Pablo Montoya.
"42 did it so we're gonna fix it and go back out and wreck the prick." Greg Zippidelli told his driver on the radio.
"The 42 got loose in the center of the turn on the restart and put us 3-wide, 33 on the inside," Joey Logano said afterwards. "I don't know what happened but I just got hooked. That's the second time with him and I'm about sick of it."
Leading to the next restart, car owner Richard Childress warned Harvick that Kyle Busch had said he would do whatever he could to help Hamlin win the championship.
Another caution then came out on lap 164 when Kevin Conway had a flat tire. Harvick gained a spot as he continued his drive to the front, while Johnson got knocked out of the top 10 with a 14.6 second stop.
"Come on guys," Johnson told his crew. "We were toast there. I need you guys."
"10-4," Knaus said. "We got your back."
Denny Hamlin's team made serious adjustments to his car under this stop to also work their way back to the front.
The next caution with 81 laps to go would be the turning point for Harvick's championship chances. The caution came out for debris after Jeff Burton got into the wall.
Harvick came first off pit road and looked to have things going his way while Johnson came off eighth and Hamlin in 9th.
However, it wasn't meant to be for Harvick as he was told he was speeding coming into the pits.
The following is the resulting radio transmission:
Kevin Harvick: What? We weren't speeding. Did they go back and check it? I don't see how we could be speeding when we followed the 56 in. That ain't right!Gil Martin: We were on the ass of two other cars, following their donkies inHarvick: You go back and check that, BillyRichard Childress: "We still have enough time to come back and get it. If that's the... way they want to play it, we'll come back and get it."Harvick: It's impossible. It's got to be a X%^&*%# glitch. ... X%&*^!$ bull---- is what that is.Martin: We come down here for a show and this is what happens.Childress: "That's just bullshit. We got lots of lap. That's just baloney.Harvick: There is no way we were speeding.....That's just them doing what they do best.
As a result, Harvick had to restart at the tail end of the field and lost his five bonus points.
The restart came 75 to go, though the caution quickly came back out. Under the resulting caution, Gil Martin ordered that all tires from his teammates be brought to Harvick's pit as they'd be putting new tires on the car every pit stop.
The restart came with 70 to go, though with 67 laps to go, Jeff Gordon's season ended as he blew the motor. His engine failure marked the first for Hendrick Motorsports this year.
"It's been a tough year," Gordon said. "No engine trouble like we had today but the little things that we've had that have kept us out of victory lane and out of the championship hunt."
Following Gordon's incident, twitter blew up with messages and statements directed at ESPN.
Following their incident earlier, Logano got car fixed and came back out on track, getting into Montoya. Both cars are now in the pits, recieving repairs. Montoya tried to approach 20, yet NASCAR Officials did not allow it. Now Felix Sebatas wants an apology from Logano for coming back out and wrecking them or he says they will go out and wreck Hamlin.
Teammates arguing about which driver would win the title would be in the mix for the rest of the day.
With 24 to go, Harvick dumped Kyle Busch on the front stretch.
"He slid up right in front of me!!" Harvick complained on the radio. "That's what you get for giving me no room."
"You realize the 29 wrecked us to put Denny a lap down and help the 48 win the championship?" Kyle's crew cheif Dave Rogers said on the radio.
"Harvick pulled a slide job on me earlier in the day and I passed on him and passed him clean," Busch said afterwards. "I guess it was the wrong time of day for that.
"It's just a guy that doesn't have a head on his shoulders straight today. I spoke to him in the driver's meeting and everything was fine, but I guess he is just a two faced guy."
"He raced me like a clown all day, driving all over me, racing all over my back bumper, cutting off my front bumper and I was sick of it." Harvick said.
In the media center, Harvick spoke of his reasoning, in which Hamlin's response was, "Kind of like how your teammates raced me."
Harvick then turned to Hamlin and said, "I just parked yours."
The restart came with 17 to go and Johnson held on to second to win the championship. Harvick finished the race third with Hamlin finishing 14th.
"I am just so thankful to be in this position," Johnson said. "I am so proud of this team. We may not had always had the most speed, but we had the most heart in it. Now I have to go out and write what five in a row means to me - I don't know!!"
The championship gave Johnsons his fifth in a row and allowed to become only one of three with five or more championships.
"This is unbelievable," he said. "I want to thank my fellow drivers and their crew cheifs and everybody at Hendrick Motorsports.
"To have five of these is unbeliveable. I grew up racing motor bikes, as everybody knows, and I sat in a stock car late in my career. To have this many and be able to do this, is pretty awesome."
Knaus echoed Johnson's setiments, stating it was a total team effort.
"It was a team effort this year," Knaus said. "It took everybody in the 24 and 48 team, everybody in the shop. Thanks to Steve LeTarte, Alan Gustafson and Lance McGrew in helping to put us here. Now that its over, maybe our driver will get the credit he deserves."
Johnson's championship allowed Rick Hendrick to become the only owner with 10 championships.
"I'm really proud of these guys," Hendrick said. "It's so hard to win one of these guys and for Jimmie and this team to do this five times in a row, it's just unbelievable. This gives us our 10th championship and oh my gosh."
With his 14th place finish, Hamlin held on to second in points, 39 points behind Johnson.
"Obviously, I am disappiointed," Hamlin said afterwards. "Our car was lightning fast up until that wreck. When we hit the 16, it obviously knocked the toe out. We got it repaired, but it obviously wasn't as fast as it was before.
"We had a great year. This is a year that we've run the most races we've ever run, contended like we never have before. It's just circumstances that put us here."
"This is obviously a huge disappointment," car owner Joe Gibbs said. "I am proud of all these guys and Denny fighting back at the end to get to second. I just hope these guys will handle it the right way. Congratulations to Jimmie."
Harvick ended up third in points, 41 points behind Johnson.
"We went down swinging and that's what we came here to do," Harvick said. "All in all, I am just proud of all of our guys and what they've done from this year to last year. We've done everything that we wanted to do, except win the race. This is a great spot to start building from in running for consistant championships."