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NASCAR NEWS 

Rankings: Johnson boosted by title

Jimmie Johnson celebrates his fifth titleJimmie Johnson made history yet again as he clinched a record-breaking fifth straight Sprint Cup title at Homestead last weekend and assured himself of finishing the year as the highest-ranked NASCAR driver in the Castrol Rankings.

Johnson recovered from some slow pitstops from his Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet team to finish second at the Florida oval and maintain his eighth place in the Castrol Rankings.

Denny Hamlin, who began the race leading the standings, and Kevin Harvick both had a chance to become champion at Homestead, but fell short.

Harvick's podium finish kept the Richard Childress Chevrolet man 10th in the Castrol Rankings while an early bash with Greg Biffle bent the front splitter on Hamlin's Joe Gibbs Toyota and limited him to 14th place in the race. That dropped him behind Ferrari Formula 1 driver Felipe Massa to 12th in the Castrol Rankings.

Carl Edwards continued his superb end to the year with a second win in a row, moving him ahead of Kyle Busch, Robert Kubica, Helio Castroneves and Nico Rosberg to 13th place.

The biggest gainer though was Aric Almirola (393), who justified RPM's decision to give him the seat vacated by Kasey Kahne recently by finishing a career-best fourth and making up 69 spots.

Edoardo Mortara retained his 75th spot after repeating his Macau Grand Prix win of 2009, but the Formula 3 Euro Series champion's status as the highest-ranked driver in the category is now under threat from British title winner Jean-Eric Vergne (76), who finished seventh on his Macau debut for Carlin.

New World Touring Car champion Yvan Muller (72) did not win either race in Macau, the victories going to Rob Huff (77) and Norbert Michelisz instead. Michelisz (169), who became the first Hungarian to win an FIA World Championship event, moved up 54 places.

RBM BMW pair Andy Priaulx (86) and Augusto Farfus (97) went the other way, losing four and 10 places respectively as they failed to repeat the team's win from 2009. Farfus' drop was the biggest in the top 100.

Paul Dumbrell (249) finally ended a 10-year wait for his first V8 Supercar pole and win at Sandown as the Rod Nash Ford driver gained 45 places. Series leader James Courtney (111) won the other race to gain nine spots while Craig Lowndes (165) dropped 12 spots after a dismal weekend for the Triple 8 Holden team.

To see the full Castrol Rankings, log on to www.castroldriverrankings.com.

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