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Johnson outduels Gordon to win 2-in-row

NASCAR Sprint Cup race in Las Vegas
Sunday, February 28, 2010

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Jimmie Johnson

Defending champion Jimmie Johnson and Chad Knaus have done it again.  After his Hendrick teammate Jeff Gordon dominated the race with Johnson running 2nd for most of it, after the final pitstop and caution flag, Johnson hunted down Gordon, passed him with ease and pulled away to an easy win, his 2nd in a row as he goes for his 5th straight title.

Gordon led more than 210 laps of the 267-lap event before losing the lead to Johnson, who seems hell-bent to win his fifth NASCAR Sprint Cup Championship before Gordon does.

Johnson won last week at Auto Club Speedway and told members of the media leading up to Sunday's race he could care less about the people who think he's tainting NASCAR racing with his dominance.

"You compete to win. I'm not gonna apologize for winning," he said. "I want to win every race."

While Johnson drove away for Sunday's victory, Kevin Harvick also passed Gordon for the runner-up spot. Gordon finished third ahead of fourth-place Mark Martin. And Matt Kenseth edged Joey Logano for fifth. Logano was sixth, a very impressive finish for the young driver. Tony Stewart was seventh, Clint Bowyer eighth, Kasey Kahne ninth and Greg Biffle 10th.
Dale Earnhardt, Jr., continued his struggle to compete with the frontrunners by finishing 16th.

Jeff Gordon dominated Sunday's Shelby American race in Las Vegas -- leading 219 laps of the 267-lap race. He finished third.
On a sunny, gorgeous afternoon, hometown favorite and pole winner Kurt Busch led the field into turn one but Gordon went to the front shortly thereafter. Two laps weren't completed before the first caution flag waved. Rookie Kevin Conway lost control of his Ford and tapped the wall out of turn four.

Gordon led on the restart at lap five. When the field settled in at 20 laps, Gordon was leading with the Busch Boys in tow. Newman was fourth with Earnhardt Jr. fifth. Rounding out the top 10 were Biffle, Stewart, Edwards, Montoya and Logano.

Mike Bliss brought out the second caution flag on lap 46 when he got into the wall in turn four. Gordon beat everyone out of the pits to maintain his lead. The buzz all week had centered on speed with the track record being broken by Kurt Busch and numerous other drivers but Sunday's pace was slower than anticipated due to the sunshine.

A caution light malfunction brought out another yellow flag right after the restart. The caution lights failed to shut off so NASCAR had to slow the field and fix the problem.

In the process, Biffle took the lead with Gordon second. On the ensuing restart at lap 57, it was Biffle, Gordon, Kyle Busch, Kurt Busch, Kenseth, Edwards, Johnson, Earnhardt Jr., Stewart, Newman and Burton.

Gordon quickly went to the front again. Kyle Busch took the top spot on lap 65, and Kenseth moved into second but Gordon was having none of that and went back out front on lap 67.

By lap 70, last week's winner in California, Johnson, had moved from 20th starting position to third place behind teammate Gordon and Kenseth. 

At 80 laps, Gordon still led with Kenseth and Johnson right behind. Biffle was fourth, Edwards fifth, Kyle Busch sixth, Stewart seventh, Burton eighth, Kurt Busch ninth and Earnhardt Jr. 10th.

At lap 88, Hornish Jr. spun off turn four and complained to his crew his car was so loose he couldn't hang on to it. Johnson had a bad pit stop this round when his tire changer had a lug nut problem. He came in third and went back out sixth. Kenseth took the lead out of the pits with Edwards ahead of Gordon.

At lap 93, after the restart, teammates Juan Pablo Montoya and Daytona 500 winner Jamie McMurray tangled, and Kurt Busch got caught up in it to bring out the fifth caution.

On the restart at lap 97, Gordon recaptured the lead from Kenseth. Edwards was third. Gordon, at this point in the race, seemed to clearly have the fastest car. Another caution light malfunction prompted the sixth caution period of the day at 108 laps.

The restart on lap 114 had Scott Speed in front briefly but Gordon sped past before they made a lap. Kenseth was next with Johnson third and Kyle Busch fourth. Burton was fifth.

At the halfway point (133 laps), it was an all Hendrick Chevrolet race with Gordon leading and Johnson second, a battle of four-time champions. Kenseth was third in a Roush Ford.  Two Childress Chevrolets were running fourth and fifth, Burton and Harvick. Kyle Busch, the defending race champion, was sixth. Rounding out the top 10 were Stewart, Martin, Kahne and Logano. Earnhardt Jr. was 11th.

Results

FIN ST CAR DRIVER MAKE SPONSOR PTS/BNS LAPS STATUS
1 20 48 Jimmie Johnson Chevrolet Lowe's / Kobalt Tools 190/5 267 Running
2 34 29 Kevin Harvick Chevrolet Pennzoil Ultra 175/5 267 Running
3 2 24 Jeff Gordon Chevrolet Pepsi Max / DuPont 175/10 267 Running
4 8 5 Mark Martin Chevrolet GoDaddy.com 160/0 267 Running
5 11 17 Matt Kenseth Ford Crown Royal 160/5 267 Running
6 6 20 Joey Logano Toyota The Home Depot 150/0 267 Running
7 9 14 Tony Stewart Chevrolet Old Spice / Office Depot 151/5 267 Running
8 13 33 Clint Bowyer Chevrolet Cheerios / Hamburger Helper 147/5 267 Running
9 19 9 Kasey Kahne Ford Budweiser 138/0 267 Running
10 7 16 Greg Biffle Ford 3M 139/5 267 Running
11 22 31 Jeff Burton Chevrolet Caterpillar 130/0 267 Running
12 12 99 Carl Edwards Ford Aflac / Kellogg's 127/0 267 Running
13 17 00 David Reutimann Toyota Tums 124/0 267 Running
14 32 47 Marcos Ambrose Toyota Kingsford / Scott Products 121/0 267 Running
15 5 18 Kyle Busch Toyota M&M's 123/5 267 Running
16 4 88 Dale Earnhardt Jr. Chevrolet National Guard / Amp Energy 115/0 267 Running
17 26 98 Paul Menard Ford Moen / Menards 112/0 267 Running
18 3 39 Ryan Newman Chevrolet Tornados 109/0 267 Running
19 27 11 Denny Hamlin Toyota FedEx Ground 106/0 267 Running
20 35 56 Martin Truex Jr. Toyota NAPA Gold Filters 103/0 267 Running
21 28 78 Regan Smith Chevrolet Furniture Row Companies 100/0 267 Running
22 23 82 Scott Speed Toyota Red Bull 102/5 267 Running
23 18 6 David Ragan Ford UPS 94/0 267 Running
24 25 34 Travis Kvapil Ford Long John Silver's 91/0 265 Running
25 40 43 A.J. Allmendinger Ford Valvoline 88/0 265 Running
26 16 12 Brad Keselowski Dodge Penske Racing 85/0 265 Running
27 37 19 Elliott Sadler Ford Stanley 82/0 265 Running
28 14 77 Sam Hornish Jr. Dodge Mobil 1 79/0 264 Running
29 36 66 Dave Blaney Toyota Prism Motorsports 76/0 264 Running
30 38 38 David Gilliland Ford Taco Bell 73/0 263 Running
31 31 83 Brian Vickers Toyota Red Bull 70/0 262 Running
32 42 7 Robby Gordon Toyota Monster Energy 67/0 262 Running
33 21 13 Max Papis Toyota GEICO 64/0 262 Running
34 24 1 Jamie McMurray Chevrolet McDonald's 61/0 260 Running
35 1 2 Kurt Busch Dodge Miller Lite 58/0 259 Running
36 39 37 Kevin Conway * Ford Extenze 55/0 256 Running
37 10 42 Juan Montoya Chevrolet Target 52/0 247 Running
38 29 71 Bobby Labonte Chevrolet TaxSlayer.com 49/0 216 Running
39 30 36 Mike Bliss Chevrolet KimKardashianFragrance / Sephora.com 46/0 135 In Pit
40 41 26 Boris Said Ford Sacred Power / Southern Pride Trucking 43/0 134 In Pit
41 15 87 Joe Nemechek Toyota FrontRowJoe.com 40/0 65 In Pit
42 33 55 Michael McDowell Toyota Prism Motorsports 37/0 40 In Pit
43 43 09 Aric Almirola Chevrolet Phoenix Racing 34/0 23 In Pit

* Denotes Rookie

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