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2010:

Make it 5 Straight for Jimmie

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By Ben White

Jimmie Johnson, of El Cajon, California, added six more victories and 23 top-10 finishes to his résumé en route to a fifth consecutive NASCAR Cup Series title and the 10th for team owner Rick Hendrick.

Johnson and crew chief Chad Knaus were simply amazing in 2010, as they were virtually unstoppable, no matter what was thrown at them. They were on top of their game and were the top combination, no matter where they raced on the 36-race Cup Series schedule.

For a fifth straight season, Johnson was the driver to beat, as was the No. 48 Cup Series team that is based only a half mile from Charlotte Motor Speedway.

Team owner Rick Hendrick and four-time Cup Series champion Jeff Gordon have an eye for spotting very talented drivers and when they identified Johnson in the Xfinity Series in 1998, they knew they had a winner.

When the 2010 season began, all eyes were on Johnson to see if he could pull off another title. Again, the Daytona curse continued with a 35th-place finish due to a broken rear axle. Wins at California and Las Vegas over the next two weeks and a triumph at Bristol in mid-March put him third in points. Johnson fell as far back as ninth following the August event at Bristol but as he had done before, Johnson made up lost ground by celebrating three more victories.

Johnson regained the points lead in the final race of the year at Homestead-Miami. The winning margin was 39 points over Denny Hamlin, driver of the No. 11 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota.

HOMESTEAD, FL – NOVEMBER 21: Denny Hamlin, driver of the #11 FedEx Toyota, races during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Ford 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 21, 2010 in Homestead, Florida. (Photo by Jason Smith/Getty Images for NASCAR)

2010

PRESIDENT: BARACK OBAMA

NO. 1 AT THE BOX OFFICE: AVATAR

MOVIES TO WATCH: TOY STORY 3 AND SHUTTER ISLAND

NO. 1 SONG: “TIK TOK” BY KESHA

GALLON OF GAS: $2.79

POP CULTURE: INSTAGRAM DEBUTED IN OCTOBER AND THE SOCIAL MEDIA APP BECAME AN INSTANT HIT.

BEST DRIVER

Jimmie Johnson, driver of the No. 48 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet, logged six wins, 23 top-10 results and two pole positions in 36 starts. Johnson’s stat line included six superspeedway wins and one short-track victory, paving the way for his fifth consecutive Cup Series title. No other driver in NASCAR history has ever been able to accomplish such a feat. The only driver to get close was Cale Yarborough with three straight championships starting in 1976.

BEST RACE

Driving the No. 1 Ganassi Racing Chevrolet, Jamie McMurray held off Dale Earnhardt Jr. as well as a multitude of cars on the final lap of the Daytona 500 to win NASCAR’s biggest and most prestigious event. McMurray only led the final five miles of the 200-lap event but was in the right place at the right time to pull off the upset victory. He also won at Indianapolis and Charlotte.

TOP CARS

The No. 48 Hendrick Motorsports Lowe’s Chevrolet went to Victory Lane six times and had 23 top-10 results in 36 races.

Denny Hamlin, driver of the No. 11 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota, recorded eight wins and 18 top-10 finishes during the 2010 season.

2010 Season Recap

DATE LOCATION WINNER

Feb. 14 | Daytona International Speedway | Jamie McMurray

Feb. 21 | Auto Club Speedway | Jimmie Johnson

Feb. 28 | Las Vegas Speedway | Jimmie Johnson

March 7 | Atlanta Motor Speedway | Kurt Busch

March 21 | Bristol Motor Speedway | Jimmie Johnson

March 29 | Martinsville Speedway | Denny Hamlin

April 10 | Phoenix Raceway | Ryan Newman

April 19 | Texas Motor Speedway | Denny Hamlin

April 25 | Talladega Superspeedway | Kevin Harvick

May 1 | Richmond Raceway | Kyle Busch

May 8 | Darlington Raceway | Denny Hamlin

May 16 | Dover Motor Speedway | Kyle Busch

May 30 | Charlotte Motor Speedway | Kurt Busch

June 6 | Pocono Raceway | Denny Hamlin

June 13 | Michigan International Speedway | Denny Hamlin

June 20 | Sonoma Raceway | Jimmie Johnson

June 27 | New Hampshire Motor Speedway | Jimmie Johnson

July 3 | Daytona International Speedway | Kevin Harvick

July 10 | Chicagoland Speedway | David Reutimann

July 25 | Indianapolis Motor Speedway | Jamie McMurray

Aug. 1 | Pocono Raceway | Greg Biffle

Aug. 8 | Watkins Glen International | Juan Pablo Montoya

Aug.15 | Michigan International Speedway | Kevin Harvick

Aug. 21 | Bristol Motor Speedway | Kyle Busch

Sept. 5 | Atlanta Motor Speedway | Tony Stewart

Sept. 11 | Richmond Raceway | Denny Hamlin

Sept. 19 | New Hampshire Motor Speedway | Clint Bowyer

Sept. 26 | Dover Motor Speedway | Jimmie Johnson

Oct. 3 | Kansas Speedway | Greg Biffle

Oct. 10 | Auto Club Speedway | Tony Stewart

Oct. 16 | Charlotte Motor Speedway | Jamie McMurray

Oct. 24 | Martinsville Speedway | Denny Hamlin

Oct. 31 | Talladega Superspeedway | Clint Bowyer

Nov. 7 | Texas Motor Speedway | Denny Hamlin

Nov. 14 | Phoenix Raceway | Carl Edwards

Nov 21 | Homestead-Miami Speedway | Carl Edwards

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