Monday, November 1, 2004
© Copyright 2013
Clayton News Daily
By Anthony Rhoads
Mark Martin dominated and had the best car but Sunday's Bass Pro Shops MBNA 500 belonged to Hendrick Motorsports.
A week after 10 Hendrick team members and family were killed in a plane crash near Martinsville, Va., Jimmie Johnson raced to victory in Sunday's Nextel Cup race at Atlanta Motor Speedway.
Martin led for 227 laps but after Martin went in for a pit stop with 15 laps to go, Johnson was able to grab the lead and hold off Martin for the win.
"I just want to thank everyone at home and here for supporting the Hendrick family," Johnson said. "It really didn't sink into my mind until I got the lead in the end. I just got goosebumps inside. We want to win every race that we come to but today we just wanted to try to honor this race and dedicate it to our lost friends."
Johnson's teammate Brian Vickers, a 21-year-old Nextel Cup rookie, finished seven in Sunday's race.
"Everybody did a good job and we had a good run," he said. "We were fast at the end of the race and that's what counted."
The other Hendrick drivers, Terry Labonte and Jeff Gordon had less than stellar runs with Labonte coming in 31st and Gordon finishing 34th.
Labonte, Gordon and Vickers all joined Johnson in victory lane to celebrate after a difficult week for Hendrick Motorsports.
"This is a special day for the Hendrick Motorsports organization," Gordon said. "I am just so proud of Jimmie. We all wanted a victory here and all four of us were trying so hard to win this race and I just know that this had brought a lot of smiles here. That is some awesome and I am just so proud of the whole organization for coming together and stepping up the way they did."