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Cup Notes: Martin Awed By 48

Jeff Hood | Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Friday, November 20 2009
Edsel Ford II and new best buddy Richard Petty toured HMS Friday. Petty has become a Ford customer. (Photo by John Harrelson/Getty Images for NASCAR)

Edsel Ford II and new best buddy Richard Petty toured HMS Friday. Petty has become a Ford customer. (Photo by John Harrelson/Getty Images for NASCAR)

By Jeff Hood | Senior Writer
RacinToday.com

Homestead, Fla. – When it comes to excelling during NASCAR’s 10-race Sprint Cup chase, there is no one better than Jimmie Johnson, who will attempt to clinch an unprecedented fourth consecutive title during Sunday’s Ford 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

Mark Martin, the lone driver with a mathematical chance to dethrone Johnson on Sunday, said his teammate’s uncanny ability to peak when the Chase rolls around is due to the mechanical wizardry of the No. 48 team.

“It’s something more in the hands of the mechanical side than it is in Jimmie’s hands,” said Martin, who trails Johnson by 108 points. “You know, Jimmie turns it up every time he straps in.

“But I think that the guys build toward that. You know, they build through the season. They build toward having a faster racecar. They do a good job of putting all the pieces together at one time, you know, once the 10 races start.”

Jamie McMurray was reunited with former team owner Chip Ganassi on Friday.

McMurray, who drove for Ganassi earlier this decade, will depart Roush Fenway Racing following this weekend’s Ford 400 to take over the driving chores of the No. 1 Chevrolet for Earnhardt Gannasi Racing Chevrolet beginning in 2010.

Because Roush was forced by NASCAR to shrink the number of Sprint Cup teams it fields from five to four, McMurray was left shopping for a ride.

His victory at Talladega on Nov. 1 was a timely boost for his resume.

“Certainly, getting the win at Talladega was good timing for everything in my life,” McMurray said.

“There are a lot of advantages of being with an organization as large as Roush (Fenway Racing). When things are going well things are really good. You have a lot of data, a lot of drivers to learn from.

“The downside to that is when things aren’t going well. It’s a big ship and it takes a long time to get it turned around.”

Juan Pablo Montoya admitted on Friday that he’s not necessarily his son’s number one fan.

“My son is actually a huge Kyle Busch fan,” Montoya admitted. “I’m not lying. If you go look at my motorhome, I just got an M&M hood that I’m going to put in his room. I have to put a Target one up as well.

“It’s incredible. He understands what I do. (My daughter), not so much. But the boy knows. He’ll tell you who drive a car, what car.

“Like with Kyle, it’s actually pretty funny. When Kyle drives the Nationwide car, he knows what car it is. When he drives a truck, he knows what car it is. It’s kind of freaky.”

Sunday’s Ford 400 will be Greg Biffle’s final opportunity to find victory lane for the first time this season. Biffle has won at least one Cup race each year since becoming a regular in NASCAR top touring series in 2003.

“It makes me hurt to think about how many we’ve come close to (winning this year, such as) running out of gas at Michigan, and stopping on the air hose at California, even though we were still in the pit box,” Biffle said. “There’s been about four or five. Kansas, we took four tires instead of two and (Tony Stewart) beat us.

“It’s been very difficult. But they’re not easy to win, either, and it would be very disappointing to go a season without winning a race since I’ve been able to win every year. I don’t think there’s a driver in our sport that’s ever done that to date.

“Unfortunately, I’ve got one chance left, and that’s here on Sunday.”

– Jeff Hood can be reached at jhood@racintoday.com

Jeff Hood | Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Friday, November 20 2009
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