Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Rating the Ford 400: 3 Stars ***

The 2009 NASCAR season came to a close Sunday with Jimmie Johnson making history and taking home his fourth consecutive title. Denny Hamlin also spanked the field in the final run and won his fourth race of the season. A season finale filled with history and emotion gets a 3 Star Rating.

Congratulations to Jimmie Johnson and the entire #48 team. What they have accomplished since becoming a team in 2002 is ridiculous. Never have they finished outside the top five in points and now they are right there in the conversation of the greatest teams in the history of NASCAR. Also, throughout the race Johnson was surrounded by guys who were not taking it easy. Juan Pablo Montoya and Sam Hornish Jr. were on edge all day, and provided a couple hold-your-breath moments for the eventual champion.

As for the race, I hate it that the winner always gets overshadowed. Even though it is the last race of the season, I find it extremely hard to remember who wins at Homestead. Sometimes it even feels like Johnson has won this race the last four years. But, Denny Hamlin finished off a very good year with his victory Sunday evening. If the Gibbs cars ever put together some consistency, look out. They seem primed for a strong comeback campaign in 2010.

I thought it was interesting that everybody seemed to be less willing to give up a spot in this race. They certainly were content to ride in place the week before. Anyway, the battle between Juan Pablo Montoya and Tony Stewart was classic. If there is one guy in the field willing to blatantly deliver some payback, it’s Montoya. It was also good to see the RCR cars up front and contending. We all know they have had a terrible year, but the racing is better when a few of those guys return to the front, including Jeff Burton who finished off the season with two impressive second place finishes. He may have even won this race had the mandatory debris caution not flown with 51 laps remaining (I told you I would gripe about it again this week). Burton was horrible on the restarts all night and never had a chance on the final run.

So, as we now face the 83 days that make up the NASCAR offseason, I want to wish everyone here a safe and enjoyable winter. Remember to throw the debris caution and take time to be with family and friends during the holidays, but of course you know that means a double-file restart at Daytona is soon to follow.

Thank you to all of the readers of this blog. It is enjoyable for me to share thoughts about the race each week and I hope you feel the same. Look for the Monday Morning Crew Chief season wrap-up on December 8, the Tuesday after the awards banquet.


  1. 3 stars it is...

    JPM v. Smoke is exactly the rivalry NASCAR needs...and I for one will cheer them to wreck each other every week! LOL

    I thought the race was pretty good - it was also exciting to watch Kurt pull ahead, then ultimately lose 3rd to Jeff.

    JJ is amazing - 4 champs in 8 years is insane. I have come to respect him more and more and esp his team.

    Thanks for all the ratings this year MMCC!! Dont be a stranger in the off season...

  2. klvalus - Those are two drivers that certainly won't back down. Hope it continues into next year.

    What was Kurt's post-race interview all about? I was surprised he trashed Tryson like that.

    Thanks for reading each week and I look forward to reading some of "The Hot Pass" this offseason.

  3. Nice post as always. I think it is good that NASCAR let Hamlin have his own celebration before all of the championship festivities got under way. They made Johnson park on the back side of the track and basically put him in a holding cell... lol. Sorry I haven't read in over a month!

  4. I watched more of the race than I thought I would. Not that there was ever any doubt or drama over who the champ would be.

    Interesting that JJ actually got on his radio and whined about guys getting too close to him. Also interesting how Dale Jarrett had nothing to say about that. I can't imagine Dale Sr getting on his radio and saying that someone was racing him too hard.

    Have a super offseason JM. And Happy Holidays to you and the fam.

  5. gonger93 - Good to hear from you! For a second I thought we would have dueling burnouts. Both guys did good burnouts on their own though.

    Gene - Yeah I was disappointed to hear that radio clip. In my mind it should not matter. This race counts as many points and as much money as all the other races. David Reutimann was knocked out of the Chase when Hamlin wrecked him at Pocono and ruined his chance at a championship. Johnson's bid shouldn't be any more special.

    Thanks and the same to you!