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Johnson widens overall lead

NASCAR driver wins at Martinsville and closes in on his third consecutive Sprint Cup Series title with only four races to go.

October 20, 2008|From the Associated Press

Jimmie Johnson won again at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway on Sunday, increasing his lead in his bid for a third consecutive Sprint Cup Series title with four races to go.

The two-time defending series champion led 339 laps as he and his Hendrick Motorsports teammates dominated once more on the oldest, smallest and trickiest circuit in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series.

Johnson won the fall race at this track for the third consecutive time. "It's just been good to me," he said.

Teammate Dale Earnhardt Jr. finished second, followed by Carl Edwards and Jeff Gordon, giving Hendrick three of the top four spots. The 1-2 finish was the 23rd for the multicar team and third at Martinsville.

"I didn't have anything for Jimmie," Earnhardt said. "That car was so awesome."

Johnson increased his lead from 69 points over Jeff Burton to 149 over Greg Biffle. Burton started second and finished 17th.

As they had in the spring, when they combined to lead 371 laps, Johnson and Gordon set the pace all day with Gordon leading 57 laps. Earnhardt made it a three-car Hendrick party near the front and, unlike in the spring, Johnson this time managed to close the deal.

Johnson heads to Atlanta with the largest points lead in the history of the Chase at this point. He's not ready, however, to start thinking about another title. "It's getting closer," he said. "It's still not time."

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Lewis Hamilton's win in the Chinese Grand Prix at Shanghai proved to be anticlimactic, leaving the McLaren driver just short of clinching the 2008 Formula One title.

Hamilton led from start to finish in a tepid race, finishing 14.9 seconds ahead of rival Felipe Massa, who took second thanks to Ferrari teammate Kimi Raikkonen's letting him through late in the race.

The result extended Hamilton's lead in the drivers' championship to seven points with only the Brazilian Grand Prix remaining in two weeks.

The only way Massa can beat Hamilton is if the Brazilian wins his home race and the McLaren driver finishes no higher than seventh, or Massa finishes second and Hamilton out of the points.

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