MARTINSVILLE, Va. — Jimmie Johnson didn’t have the car to beat until late in the Goody’s 500 on Sunday, but that he emerged at the right time should have been no surprise.
After all, he is Mr. Martinsville.
Johnson nudged Denny Hamlin aside in the third and fourth turns with 15 laps to go at Martinsville Speedway, and gave team owner Rick Hendrick a perfect place to celebrate the 25th anniversary of his first victory in NASCAR’s premier series: Victory Lane.
Johnson and Hamlin had differing views of the pass that gave Johnson his fifth victory in the last six races on NASCAR’s smallest, trickiest track. Hamlin said it was a bump and standard short-track fare, while Johnson thought the video would change Hamlin’s opinion.
On the pass, Johnson caught Hamlin and got inside him on the backstretch on the 485th lap. From the outside, Hamlin tried to cut down in front of Johnson, bringing the contact.
Johnson gathered control and grabbed the lead, while Hamlin kept his car from hitting the wall and tried to give chase, but Johnson pulled away easily and coasted to the victory.
“If he wants to think that I tried moving him out of the way, he can believe that, but he should watch the video and see that I was inside of him,” Johnson said. “I did everything I could to miss him — climbed up on the curb — and he was still coming down.
Hamlin said he bore no ill will, but will look forward to a chance to reciprocate.