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Johnson Wins 50th NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Race

by Pete McCole
Sunday, March 21, 2010

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Jimmie Johnson led 84 laps of the Food City 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway, including the final seven, earning his first career win at the short track
Doug Pensinger/Getty Images for NASCAR

Despite four-straight Sprint Cup Championships, a Daytona 500 victory and an All-Star race win, there was still one victory that has eluded Jimmie Johnson his entire career – a victory at Bristol Motor Speedway.

On Sunday, Johnson scratched off two more milestones in his bid for a fifth-straight NASCAR Sprint Cup title with a win in Sunday’s Food City 500 to score his first victory at the famed half-mile track as well as notching his 50th career Sprint Cup win.

Johnson passed Tony Stewart with seven laps to go and easily cruised to the victory by over ten car-lengths to secure his first victory at Bristol Motor Speedway, one of only six tracks he had yet to win at.

Stewart held on for second, followed by Kurt Busch, Greg Biffle and Matt Kenseth.

Johnson’s victory was his third in the first five races of the 2010 season, moving him to third in the standings just 14 points behind leader Kevin Harvick.

“A couple cool stats and an awesome victory today,” said Johnson. “I'm just proud of what we continue to do. I mean, it's one thing to have some success, but to continue to do it year after year, to find tracks that really are our weakest tracks, focus on them, get stronger and better at them, is a cool thing to experience.

“There's a lot of work that goes into it. I wish everybody could see behind the scenes what effort goes into it….trying to find the smallest details to make us better week in and week out, at this track so we could finally win here.

“Every win is extremely special. But when a track kicks your butt for so long and you finally can win at that track, there's just something really unique about that. That's what I experienced today.”

Edwards, Dale Earnhardt, Jr., Jamie McMurray, Kyle Busch and Jeff Burton rounded out the top ten finishers.

Johnson gave up second place and an sure chance at a top-five finish by electing to take on four tires during the final pit stop on lap 485, coming off pit road sixth behind Biffle, Kenseth, Edwards and Stewart – all of whom took on only two tires.

Kurt Busch, who had led 10 times for a race-high 278 laps, also took four tires and lined up on in the inside of Johnson for the double-file restart.

With the green flag in the air, Kenseth got off to a bad start, trapping the drivers running behind him as the outside line charged past with Johnson sliding into third behind Stewart and Biffle.

After trying to make a three-wide move around Biffle, Johnson fell in line as Stewart dropped to the low side around Biffle with Johnson following to take second.

With seven laps to go, Johnson moved to the high side of Stewart and made the pass as they came through turn one and quickly pulled away.

For many of the drivers in the top ten, the decision on whether to take on four tire or only two was an agonizing choice, and one that was likely to be second-guessed long after the race was over.

“We didn't have a choice, knowing when the caution came out, knowing to stay or come in. It was just a matter to take two or four,” said Stewart. “If we were really tight, I probably would have requested four. Being loose, I felt like we could afford to make a chassis adjustment and just put right sides on. (Crew Chief) Darian (Grubb) backed me up on that. That made me feel confident we did the right thing.

“We got lucky on the restart. Matt spun the tires, we were able to get second there, get underneath Greg (Biffle), get by. But we weren't able to hold off Jimmie.”

For Busch, the third-place showing was a bitter pill to swallow after dominating the event at a track where he already has five Sprint Cup victories.

After giving up the lead with 17 laps to go to come to pit road for four tires, Busch was one the drivers pinned on the inside line as Kenseth failed to get going on the final restart.

“I’d rather lose to any of the 41 cars out there than the 48 car,” said Busch. “I thought we had them beat. I gave it my heart today, but came up short.

“We definitely had a car to beat today. We just ended up in the wrong lane for that last restart. We would have been better off if we had lost a spot on pit road and started up on the outside. It’s just the luck of the draw. We had it won, but we didn’t drive our car into victory lane. I poured my heart out, trying to beat the 48 and then to lose to them, that’s what is upsetting.”

With 50 victories, Johnson is now tied with Ned Jarrett and Junior Johnson for 10th on the all-time win list, and now moves on to next week’s race at Martinsville, where Johnson already has six victories including five of the last seven events.

I feel we're one of the ones to consider(a favorite). But this is racing, and anything can and will happen,” said Johnson. “We're off to a great start. But we've all seen enough teams rise and fall. You never just hand it to anybody.
         
“We have a lot of racing left, there is no doubt about it. But when we are winning at tracks we aren't supposed to, the boys better look. Even that No. 2 car (Kurt Busch) that doesn't want the No. 48 to win.”

Results

FIN ST CAR DRIVER MAKE SPONSOR PTS/BNS LAPS STATUS
1 4 48 Jimmie Johnson Chevrolet Lowe's 190/5 500 Running
2 11 14 Tony Stewart Chevrolet Office Depot / Old Spice 175/5 500 Running
3 2 2 Kurt Busch Dodge Miller Lite 175/10 500 Running
4 25 16 Greg Biffle Ford U.S. Census 165/5 500 Running
5 7 17 Matt Kenseth Ford Crown Royal 155/0 500 Running
6 8 99 Carl Edwards Ford Scotts 150/0 500 Running
7 18 88 Dale Earnhardt Jr. Chevrolet National Guard / Amp Energy 146/0 500 Running
8 17 1 Jamie McMurray Chevrolet Bass Pro Shops / Tracker 142/0 500 Running
9 38 18 Kyle Busch Toyota M&M's 138/0 500 Running
10 14 31 Jeff Burton Chevrolet Caterpillar 139/5 500 Running
11 33 29 Kevin Harvick Chevrolet Shell / Pennzoil 130/0 500 Running
12 19 56 Martin Truex Jr. Toyota NAPA Auto Parts 127/0 500 Running
13 36 12 Brad Keselowski Dodge Penske Racing 129/5 500 Running
14 5 24 Jeff Gordon Chevrolet DuPont 121/0 500 Running
15 28 83 Brian Vickers Toyota Red Bull 118/0 500 Running
16 21 39 Ryan Newman Chevrolet Haas Automation 115/0 500 Running
17 23 43 A.J. Allmendinger Ford Insignia / Best Buy 112/0 500 Running
18 12 98 Paul Menard Ford Pittsburgh Paints / Menards 109/0 500 Running
19 15 11 Denny Hamlin Toyota FedEx Express 106/0 500 Running
20 37 19 Elliott Sadler Ford Stanley 103/0 500 Running
21 43 71 Bobby Labonte Chevrolet TaxSlayer.com 100/0 500 Running
22 32 7 Robby Gordon Toyota Warner Music Nashville / Blake Shelton 97/0 499 Running
23 16 38 David Gilliland Ford Taco Bell 94/0 499 Running
24 31 26 David Stremme Ford Air National Guard 91/0 498 Running
25 41 34 Travis Kvapil Ford Long John Silver's 88/0 498 Running
26 6 42 Juan Montoya Chevrolet Target 90/5 498 Running
27 1 20 Joey Logano Toyota The Home Depot 87/5 495 Running
28 42 37 Kevin Conway * Ford Extenze 79/0 492 Running
29 30 6 David Ragan Ford UPS 76/0 483 Running
30 34 190 Casey Mears Chevrolet Juice Air Fresheners / SmellMyCar.com 73/0 483 Running
31 29 82 Scott Speed Toyota Red Bull 70/0 480 Running
32 22 77 Sam Hornish Jr. Dodge Mobil 1 67/0 477 Running
33 9 47 Marcos Ambrose Toyota Little Debbie 64/0 448 Running
34 24 9 Kasey Kahne Ford Budweiser 61/0 432 Running
35 13 5 Mark Martin Chevrolet GoDaddy.com 58/0 408 Running
36 20 78 Regan Smith Chevrolet Furniture Row Companies 55/0 329 Accident
37 40 46 Terry Cook* Dodge Whitney Motorsports 52/0 285 Brakes
38 10 00 David Reutimann Toyota Aaron's Dream Machine 49/0 113 Engine
39 27 09 Aric Almirola Chevrolet Phoenix Construction / GracewayPharmaceuticals 46/0 59 Brakes
40 26 33 Clint Bowyer Chevrolet BB&T 43/0 56 Engine
41 39 55 Michael Waltrip Toyota Prism Motorsports 40/0 46 Susp.
42 3 66 Dave Blaney Toyota Prism Motorsports 37/0 40 Accident
43 35 87 Joe Nemechek Toyota Computer Works 34/0 30 Rear Gear

* Denotes Rookie

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