Sunday, October 31, 2004


Last week, 10 members of the Hendrick racing family, including Rick Hendrick's son, were killed when a team plane crashed outside of Martinsville, VA. This week, the Hendrick racing family celebrated in victory lane at the Atlanta Motor Speedway. It was Jimmie Johnson who took the checkered flag. This was Johnson's third consecutive victory, and it moved him into second place in the championship standings.

The championship race tightened up considerably this week due to leader Kurt Busch's engine blowout on lap 35. Busch finished in 42nd place. Jeff Gordon also had problems and finished in 35th place. With 15 laps to go, it looked like Dale Earnhardt, Jr. was poised to take over the points lead. Junior was cruising in 3rd place when he got together with Carl Edwards. This dropped Junior all the way to a 33rd place finish.

Now that the dust has settled, there is a whole new look to the championship race. Kurt Busch is still in the top spot. Jimmie Johnson is now in 2nd place and only trails Busch by 56 points. Jeff Gordon dropped to 3rd and is 72 points out of the lead. The perennial bridesmaid, Mark Martin, moved up to 3rd place and is only 81 points away from capturing the Cup. Dale, Jr. rounds out the top five and trails by 98 points.