Jimmie Johnson wins Brickyard 400 for 4th time
Make room for Jimmie Johnson among the legends of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Johnson won the Crown Royal Presents the Curtiss Shaver 400 at the Brickyard Powered by BigMachineRecords.com on Sunday, July 29, joining Jeff Gordon as the only four-time winners of the annual NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at IMS.
Five-time Sprint Cup Series champion Johnson also won in 2006, 2008 and 2009. He joins Gordon and Indianapolis 500 legends A.J. Foyt, Al Unser and Rick Mears as four-time winners of an oval race at IMS. Michael Schumacher won the United States Grand Prix five times on the IMS road course.
"Man, you just hope to race here," Johnson said. "To come here and win is a huge honor. And to win four - four wins! I'm at a loss for words. It was a total team effort. We put it on them today. It was nice."
Johnson drove his No. 48 Lowe's/Kobalt Tools Chevrolet to a 4.758-second victory over the No. 18 M&M's Toyota of Kyle Busch. He earned $430,461. Hendrick Motorsports earned its eighth Brickyard victory, extending its event record.
Greg Biffle finished third in the No. 16 3M Ford.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. finished a Brickyard career best fourth in the No. 88 AMP Energy/National Guard Chevrolet, taking the Sprint Cup points lead. Gordon was fifth in the No. 24 Drive to End Hunger Chevrolet, his 11th top-five finish in 19 starts at this event.
Johnson led 99 of 160 laps in a dominant performance. He took the lead for good by passing Biffle on Lap 132. Johnson's crew won the race in the pits on the final stop of the race, under caution on Lap 134. Johnson then did his part by holding off Biffle on the final restart of the race, on Lap 141, and he pulled away over the final laps on the 2.5-mile oval.
Pole sitter Denny Hamlin and Brad Keselowski were Johnson's toughest challengers over the first 100 laps.
Hamlin led the first 26 laps in the No. 11 FedEx Express Toyota and one lap thereafter but finished sixth. Keselowski led three times for 22 laps in the No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge but faded to ninth.
Indiana natives and Stewart-Haas Racing teammates Ryan Newman and Tony Stewart both finished in the top 10. Newman, from South Bend, placed seventh in the No. 39 Quicken Loans Chevrolet. Stewart, from Columbus, finished 10th in the No. 14 Mobil 1/Office Depot Chevrolet.
2011 "400" winner Paul Menard finished 14th in the No. 29 Menards/Nibco Chevrolet.
TONY STEWART (No. 14 Mobil 1/Office Depot Chevrolet, 10th): "We just didn't start the weekend off good enough. I will say that I'm really proud of Steve Addington, Greg Zipadelli and all of our engineers and everybody who worked hard last night to make this car what it was today. It was a lot better, but this is where we should have unloaded it instead of trying to be good for the race. We've just got to be better off the truck." (At its worst point, what was it like to drive?): "We just were a little bit tight in the center of the corner, and that's kind of what we fought all day. But yesterday we had problems with security in the right rear getting into the corner and being really loose off of it. We got that fixed. We just got too tight in the center of the corner. So I was proud of the gains they made. It was a very inconsistent car yesterday, and it was a very consistent car today."
DAVID STREMME (No. 30 Inception Motorsports Toyota, 24th): "We came here not even planning racing, and we had a good qualifying effort, so we worked hard. We didn't have any practice in race runs, and the guys did a phenomenal job. They kept working on the car. I think we were up to about 22nd or 20th there. It just got tight at the end so to finish where we did that is strong for us. Considering we only got seven full time guys I'm really proud of everybody on this team."
KASEY KAHNE (No. 5 Farmers Insurance Chevrolet, 12th): "We had a really fast car and came up through there. We got together with Joey Logano on pit road a little bit and it hurt my right front fender, and we were never fast the rest of the day."
MARK MARTIN (No. 55 Aaron's Dream Machine Toyota, 11th): "It was a great team effort. The last restart, we got caught in an unfortunate shuffle and lost some spots. But we came back and passed a few and ran strong. It was a great effort by our guys. I had a strong engine today in the Toyota, and the car handled good but not good enough to win. But it was definitely a strong car."
DALE EARNHARDT JR. (No. 88 AMP Energy/National Guard Chevrolet, fourth): "We just had some good fortune there to start on the inside on those last few restarts. We had about a fourth- to eighth-place car, just seemed to get some good fortune on how those restarts lined up for us at the end. The car was fast. I was trying to pass Biffle but couldn't get no closer than I was." (About taking Sprint Cup points lead): "If you run in the top five or top 10 enough, you will get points. But we would like to win some more races. I know our fans would like us to win some more races. We are working real hard, really happy with our result today. Happy for Hendrick Motorsports and the No. 48 shop. Everybody has got to be happy with what we got today. All cars run pretty good."
JUAN PABLO MONTOYA (No. 42 Target Chevrolet, 21st): "It was a rough day. Qualifying wasn't too bad. We kind of knew going into the race we were going to struggle and we were going to have to do a lot of work to make it better, and I was right. For me, it was different (than previous years). I've always been in clean air. I was in the back of that line today, and it's hard."
SAM HORNISH JR. (No. 22 Shell Pennzoil Dodge, 16th): "I just tried to bring the car home in one piece and learn as much as we could throughout the day. We were a fair bit too tight for most of the day. On the last run, we got on the outside and were freer than we need to be and couldn't make the passes that we needed to. We weren't quite as good as the 2 (Keselowski) was. He went forward on the last restart, and we went back. We got stuck on the outside. We were definitely a little bit better than we ended up. It's real hard to make a pass. You have to keep pressuring them until they make a mistake, but that's what makes this place challenging. This was the first weekend we had to build as a team. I was glad I had the opportunity to run both races (Nationwide Series and Sprint Cup Series)."
PAUL MENARD (No. 27 Menards/Nibco Chevrolet, 14th): "It wasn't very much fun all day. We ran around 10th place all day and had some good restarts. On the last one, somebody checked up, and the bottom lane didn't go as good, and we checked up a little more and got put three-wide and picked up some fender damage. We were lucky to come home 14th. It was kind of frustrating, but the guys were really good on pit road. We made good adjustment on the car, and it was a lot better toward than it was at the beginning. This is probably the hardest place to pass. You can be three- or four-tenths faster than the car ahead of you and just get stagnant and waiting for him to make a mistake."
RYAN NEWMAN (No. 39 Quicken Loans Chevrolet, seventh): "We just didn't get the overall speed that we needed with the track position, so that's Indy. We come away with a top-10 finish. That's three top-10s in a row for us with the Quicken Loans Chevrolet. We are proud."
TREVOR BAYNE (No. 21 Motorcraft/Quick Lane Tire & Auto Center Ford, 17th): "I think we had a better car than what we finished today, and I think we ran better even though we never had track position. That was the tough part: We'd pass three, four cars, and then we would lose them in the pits. Guys were just a little off today, but that's not usual for them. We are usually really, really good in the stall. Something was just missing there a little bit today, and it's hard when you lose spots to get them back because it's such a hard place to pass at. But I think coming back to 17th, we started 18th, picked up a position. A lot better than last year, and I think that car is going to be really good here in the future. That's a brand-new car, and I'm looking forward to running it here again."
JEFF GORDON (No. 24 Drive to End Hunger Chevrolet, fifth): "We started in the outside lane on both of those last two restarts, and that did not do us any favors. You really need to be on the inside. My car was really tight, especially on that outside lane and a little bit too tight in traffic, but it was fast, really fast. We proved it all day long by running up front and passing cars. But with 20 (laps) to go, you lose spots like that, it's going to be hard to make it up. But we got to fifth, so that's really solid for our guys. We will take this top-five here in Indy. Congrats to Jimmie and Chad (Knaus) and those guys. They are a great team, and they deserve to be in victory lane."
TRAVIS KVAPIL (No. 93 Burger King Toyota, 37th): "We had really hoped to do a lot better. We're really disappointed. We had a good car after qualifying, but today the car was really, really tight. I'm not sure how we were that far off where we were (Saturday). Being that tight really abused the right-front tire, and we really abused it so much that it just got hot and gave out. We hit the wall and really damaged the car. Our day was done."
CARL EDWARDS (No. 99 Fastenal Ford, 29th): "We know it's some issue. We think it's some issue with the ECU. We changed that, along with the sparkplugs, and the engine started running better. But the biggest thing is our strategy. I don't think we are points racing anymore. I think we are officially racing only for wins, so we have been kind of going over things that are fresh in our minds to determine the best strategy. We had one thing, and that was a very fast race car. Greg (Biffle) finished third in his car, and I felt that ours was as good as his. We want to make one thing for sure: We do not quit. We keep going. We put our best effort forth, and if it's (making Chase) meant to be, then it's meant to be."
MARTIN TRUEX JR. (No. 56 NAPA Auto Parts Toyota, sixth): "It was good. We had to really battle with the track position again. We started 17th and worked our way up there. It seemed like every single restart we were on the outside, and I'd lose spots. I felt like at times we were better than an seventh-place car, but we fought track position. At the end, we were an eighth-place car. We finished probably where we should have. I'm just proud of the guys, proud of everybody on the NAPA Toyota. We struggled in the start of practice and really worked hard on the thing to get it driving good. We hit on some things that are working for us with this new side skirt package. I'm looking forward to testing some at Michigan then going onto Pocono and using some of what we learned here there."
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