Hendrick Garage: Talladega

Credit: Todd Warshaw/Getty Images for NASCAR

Talladega, it's where the unthinkable can and usually does happen. For the Hendrick cars the unthinkable did happen. Jeff Gordon got the pole, but that wasn’t the end of the news. The bigger news was this …. Jimmie Johnson qualified 2nd, Mark Martin 3rd, and Dale Earnhardt Jr. 4th. Yes, that is correct: all four Hendrick drivers swept the front rows at Dega, only the 3rd time any team has done this. The first time was in 1956, and then in 2005; this clearly marks another date in history.

Jeff Gordon and Mark Martin

Starting 1st and 3rd, the plan for the 24 and 5 car was very simple: they wanted to stay together all day. When the green flag dropped, the 24 and 5 took off fast and kept a strong lead for the first few laps. They were serious when they said they were going to stick together. Mark and Jeff stayed true and as Darrell Waltrip said, they worked like an old married couple. The duo stayed in the back for most of the race, up until the last 20 laps when things got heated.
Credit: Jerry Markland/Getty Images for NASCAR

The 5 and 24 had a head of steam coming and they were coming fast; they were just about to lead when the caution came out for Ryan Newman's spin. On the restart, a battle broke out between Jeff, Mark, Kevin Harvick, Clint Bowyer, Carl Edwards, and of course their teammates Jimmie and Dale Jr. It was down to the white flag, Jeff and Mark had the lead, it looked to be theirs to win …. Jeff finished 3rd and Mark finished 8th. Jeff is now 13th in points, and Mark is 14th.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Jimmie Johnson:
Credit: Tom Pennington/Getty Images for NASCAR
Jimmie was overly excited to be working with his teammate Dale Jr. Junior would start right behind him and the plan was simple: they would stay together no matter what, and they did just that. Even when pit stops came, they would pit together and wait for the other to be done - that’s pure teamwork right there. The two never and I mean never broke apart; they were always together or not far from one another.

They both were great at switching as well, letting one lead and the other push, then switch. When they took the lead, the crowd was on its feet screaming. As Junior and Jimmie took the lead it was a great sight to see, and the two proved just how much a teammate really means to them.

Now here's where everything gets insane! We had 8 laps left to go, everyone is scrambling to win because everyone wants this win ... winning at Talladega is a big deal! It looked to be the 24 and 5 - they seemed to be the duo to win it. Out of nowhere comes the 48 being pushed by the 88 and they wanted this win! In addition, you had the duo of Carl Edwards and Greg Biffle and Clint Bowyer with his partner Kevin Harvick. The white flag was waving - they were 4 wide going down the track. That would be it, who would it be ….

It was Jimmie Johnson - he won that race, he won that race! Jimmie didn’t even know he won the race, he had no idea - everyone was happy.

Dale Jr. ended up in 4th but he was all smiles. Johnson shared his win with Junior, giving him the checkered flag because if it wasn’t for Earnhardt they wouldn’t have won this race. Jimmie is now 2nd in points and Junior is 3rd.

Here are some quotes from today’s race.

"Man, I don't want that," Earnhardt Jr. said.
"Well, I gotta give you something!" Johnson replied.
"That's what teammates do," Earnhardt Jr. said.
"Just take the damn flag," Johnson said, laughing.
"I appreciate it and I'll get him to sign it," Earnhardt Jr. said. "It'll be the one checkered flag I got that ain't mine."
"It could have gone either way if we were single file, but the way the race unfolded, the leader had the spot. And he pushed me to victory."
Hendrick Garage: Talladega Hendrick Garage: Talladega Reviewed by Lacy Page on Sunday, April 17, 2011 Rating: 5