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JGR Race Report - Ford 400

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Date: Nov. 19, 2006
Event: Ford 400 (Round 36 of 36)
Series: NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series
Location: Homestead-Miami Speedway (1.5-mile oval)
Winner: Greg Biffle of Roush Racing
2006 Champion: Jimmie Johnson of Hendrick Motorsports
JGR Finish: Denny Hamlin (3rd - Running, completed 268 of 268 laps); Tony Stewart (15th - Running, completed 268 of 268 laps); J.J. Yeley (30th - Out of Fuel, completed 265 of 268 laps) Denny Hamlin led the three-car Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR) contingent at Homestead-Miami Speedway by finishing third in Sunday's season-ending Ford 400 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series race. For Hamlin, driver of the No. 11 FedEx Express Chevrolet, his eighth top-five finish of 2006 earned him the 2006 Rookie of the Year title. Tony Stewart, driver of the No. 20 Home Depot Chevrolet, overcame an ill-handling race car to finish 15th. J.J. Yeley, driver of the No. 18 Interstate Batteries Chevrolet, placed a heartbreaking 30th after running out of fuel three laps short of the finish. Yeley was leading the race with less than 15 laps to go, but was passed by eventual winner Greg Biffle on lap 257. Running fourth and set for a career best Nextel Cup finish, Yeley's thirsty engine brought him to a stop on the backstretch of the 1.5-mile oval, prohibiting him from finishing the race. With the season now complete, Hamlin earned the best point finish among the trio of JGR drivers. As the lone JGR representative in the Chase for the Championship, Hamlin finished third in points, 68 markers behind champion Jimmie Johnson. Hamlin's third-place finish in the championship is the best ever for a rookie in NASCAR's modern era (1972-present). Stewart previously held the record, as he finished fourth during his rookie year in 1999. James Hylton, who scored two career NASCAR victories, still holds the record for best championship finish by a rookie all-time with a second-place finish in the 1966 point standings. Stewart secured his 11th-place point standing last week at Phoenix. He ended the year with a dominating 299-point margin over 12th-place Carl Edwards. Yeley ended his rookie year 29th in points. Biffle scored his 11th career Nextel Cup victory and his second of the season by winning the Ford 400. It marked the third consecutive win at Homestead for Biffle, as he also won the season-finale in 2004 and 2005. Martin Truex Jr., finished second, while Hamlin, Kasey Kahne and Kevin Harvick secured the rest of the top-five. Matt Kenseth, Scott Riggs, Edwards, Johnson and Clint Bowyer comprised the remainder of the top-10. Johnson's ninth-place finish secured his first Nextel Cup championship. He ended the season with 6,475 points, 56 markers ahead of runner-up Kenseth. The 2007 Nextel Cup season kicks off February 9-18 with the traditional Speedweeks at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway. The 49th Daytona 500, the first point-paying race of the season, is scheduled for Feb. 18 and will be broadcast live and in high-definition on FOX.

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