Jimmie Johnson Scores Chevrolet Its 4th Impala Ss Victory

by : Mike Bartley

James Kenneth Johnson, popularly known as Jimmie Johnson, took his fourth victory of the season and the ninth for Chevy in an atypical day race at the Richmond International Raceway. Rescheduled from Saturday night due to rain, the 300-mile, 400-lap race witnessed the Chevy Impala SS drivers brush the top four finishing spots. To stress, seven out of top ten finishers were Chevy drivers.

Johnson, the driver of the No. 48 Lowe's Impala SS and the 2006 NASCAR Nextel Cup Champion, has this to say: "This means the world to me to win here. We haven't been that strong here. It reminds me a lot of Indy last year where we came back and we were able to beat a track that's tough on us. I think this car has been an opportunity for myself and for the team to kind of learn the right setup; feeling the right the rhythm at this track. We did well at being here. I was hoping one-two-three for Hendrick Motorsports, it was awesome racing with my teammate Kyle Busch."

In his rookie year, Johnson became the first rookie in the Cup series to sweep both races at a track when he won both races at the Dover International Speedway. He became the first rookie ever to lead in the point standings. In addition, Johnson is the only driver to finish in the top five in the standings in his first five full seasons.

How does it feel to wear the Virginia Tech hat? Johnson said, "I feel honored to win this race here in Virginia. Obviously what took place, no one could ever describe. It's just so sad, I don't even know where to start. I didn't go to school there, have a lot of close friends that did, great people that work at Hendrick Motorsports that have and certainly want to dedicate this win to them."

Johnson ran near the front for most of the race, taking the lead for good with 20 laps to go. With a performance likened to that of , he finished ahead of teammate Kyle Busch, the driver of the No. 5 Kellogg's/CARQUEST Impala SS and Denny Hamlin in the No. 11 FedEx Impala SS, who finished second and third, respectively.

Jeff Gordon, the owner of Johnson's Impala SS, finished behind Hamlin. Another teammate of Johnson, the driver of the No. 24 DuPont Impala SS, kept his points in the driver with his fourth-place finish. Johnson's win pushed him up to second place in the standings up from fourth.

Richmond's race was the fourth race for Chevy's new Impala SS race car. The Impala SS has won all four new-generation race car events this season with Hendrick Motorsports - Johnson's team. Chevy drivers also hold nine of the top twelve spots in the series standings. Additionally, Chevrolet has won nine of ten races in the '07 series to date and leads in the Manufacturer's Cup chase with 87 points.

Finishing second was Kyle Busch, the driver of No. 5 Kellogg's/CARQUEST Impala SS. "That was a good run for our Kellogg's/CARQUEST Impala SS. You know we struggle in qualifying with these things but we seem to get it when the race turns around so we also want to thank all my sponsors and all the people that are behind us," Busch quipped.

When asked whether his car fell off on the last restart or Johnson's car just got better, Busch said, "Well both. I think mine fell off a little bit and his got better, because we kind of gapped out. Normally we could run together but the restart before I was a little bit better than he was and I got a good start and I got down in one and two and got a good jump on everybody but that last caution came out again. I think he would have caught us anyway. He was a little bit better overall than we were but it's still a good day for Hendrick Motorsports - one, two, four, I believe."

Denny Hamlin, the driver of No. 11 FedEx Express Impala SS and finished third in the event, noted: "We definitely had an up-and-down day but for the most part our car was pretty good. We were coming on there at the end and got caught behind a lot of cars. It seemed like the fist couple of cars could clear and we just had a tough time running on the outside. For the most part I was happy about it. The FedEx Chevrolet was a winning car there at the end but we just didn't have the track position."

Driving No. 24 DuPont Impala SS is Jeff Gordon who finished fourth. Describing his race, Gordon said, "We've got to be proud of that. This has been one of our worst tracks. To come out here in the top five just tells you what kind of improvements we've made with the DuPont Chevrolet team. We had great track position and we were able to maintain that. That probably helped us out for the most part. At one time I thought we had the car to beat and then we made some adjustments trying to keep up with the changing conditions of the track and just lost it."

He added, "I've got to congratulate Jimmie Johnson and Kyle Busch. Those guys drove one heck of a race. We're so proud to have those guys at Hendrick Motorsports. I was trying so hard to get that one-two-three Hendrick finish but just couldn't pull it off. Denny Hamlin drove a great race as well. Congratulations to Jimmie and all those guys. We'll just take our top-five and move on from here."