On a cold night under the bright lights, in front of the "hometown" for virtually all of NASCAR, Jimmie Johnson and Team #48 once again showed why they are the three-time defending champions of stock car racing's premier circuit, as Johnson once again started from the pole position, led the most laps and drove to victory in the "Bank of America 500."
The first team to start from the pole position and win the race in 27 years at Lowe's Motor Speedway in Charlotte, North Carolina, crew chief Chad Knaus' crew performed at its best when it counted the most, as they changed two right-side tires and jumped out just in front of Kasey Kahne in the #9 car on the "money stop." After a few caution flags which caused incredible restarts, Jeff Gordon in the #24 car passed the #48 on the final restart in an unbelievable duel between teammates, but just three laps later Johnson took the lead away from Gordon and drove away to take the checkered flag.
Since the inception of the Chase format in 2004, Team #48 is now the first team to ever win three of the first five races in the ten-race battle for the championship. Johnson now has driven to a series leading six victories in the 2009 campaign, and has opened up a 90 point lead on second place Hendrick Motorsports teammate Mark Martin. Fellow Hendrick Motorsports teammate driver, and co-owner of the #48 car Jeff Gordon jumped up two spots in the overall Chase standings to third, 138 behind the leader. Tony Stewart fell to 155 points of the leader but maintained fourth place in the standings, with Kurt Busch moving up one position to round out the top five.
Next week the competition moves to the half-mile 'paperclip' at Martinsville Speedway in Martinsville, Virginia. The winner of the race at Martinsville last year was Jimmie Johnson.