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Jimmie Johnson beats the heat in Fontana

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Greg Cozzo
September 2, 2007

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Jimmie Johnson celebrates with his wife
Bob Heathcote

FONTANA, CA -- On a night where track temperature hit 147 degrees and ambient temperature reached 109 degrees on the call to ‘start your engines,’ Jimmie Johnson and the Hendrick team laid claim as the team to beat with victory in the Sharp Aquos 500. Johnson’s fifth win of the season guarantees a share of the lead with teammate Jeff Gordon when the points are reset for Chase to the Nextel Cup following next week’s race in Richmond.

Johnson spoke about the team’s ability to adapt being a key tonight; “It was really just a solid effort through the whole night. In the middle part of the race, we were quick on short runs. As the track changed, we made small changes, and we got better and better.”

Trailing Johnson was Carl Edwards, last week's Bristol winner, and Kyle Busch, who dominated the early portions of the race and finished up the night leading the most laps (97). Jeff Burton was fourth and Dale Earnhardt, Jr was fifth.

Multiple cautions littered the start of the race, which included a fiery early exit for Michael Waltrip #55 NAPA Toyota Camry and a front stretch wreck which retired the #88 Generation Max Ford Fusion of Ricky Rudd. Rudd was celebrating his 900th start in NASCAR, ranking him second all time to Richard Petty. Waltrip was released from the infield care center, but Rudd was taken to a nearby hospital complaining of shoulder pains.

After an early race collision with Juan Pablo Montoya, Carl Edwards spoke about the incident and his team’s rebounded to finish second.

“I was really looking forward to this race. We were so fast in Happy Hour. The stuff Bob’s (crew chief Bob Osborne) been doing has been really great. The on the first pit stop, when they dropped the jack, the 42 (Montoya) was coming in the pit stall in front of me, and I pulled right out in front of him and wrecked the car up just a little bit. We fought back from that all day.”

The race entertained with a California Speedway record for leaders (16) as well as lead changes (30), which included fan-favorite Dale Earnhardt Jr taking the lead early on in the race. Even with aggressive pit strategies and a seemingly ‘at all cost’ driving style, the #8 Budweiser Chevrolet could not catch the leaders.

The good news for #8 fans is that Earnhardt's finish cut the points distance from 13th to 12th down to 128 points with Kevin Harvick holding the bubble position going into next week's race at Richmond. The top 12 drivers in points after Richmond qualify for The Chase for the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup championship.

Jeff Gordon, Tony Stewart, Denny Hamlin, Carl Edwards, Matt Kenseth, Jimmie Johnson, Jeff Burton and Kyle Busch are already locked into the championship chase.

Pole sitter Kurt Busch showed early dominance, but as the sun set, the team struggled to hold on to a top-10 finish (9th). His finish moved him up to 11th in Nextel Cup Point Standings and took his struggles throughout the evening right in stride;

“We changed everything under the sun to make the Miller Lite Dodge better, but all in all we’ll take the finish in the top 10. That’s what consistency is all about.”

While Jimmie Johnson and Jeff Burton celebrated victories this weekend, California Speedway assisted this weekend in efforts that raised an estimated $900,000.00 with proceeds going to the NASCAR Foundation, the Muscular Dystrophy Association, the Jimmie Johnson Foundation and over 70 other local non-profit groups. California Speedway president Gillian Zucker thanked the fans generosity.

“We had some wonderful racing on the track and at the same time we also did some wonderful things in the community,” said Zucker, “I cannot state how grateful we are to our loyal fans who are so instrumental in helping us raise funds for so many great causes.”

Results

FIN ST CAR DRIVER MAKE SPONSOR PTS/BNS LAPS STATUS
1 2 48 Jimmie Johnson Chevrolet Lowe's / Jimmie Johnson Foundation 190/5 250 Running
2 19 99 Carl Edwards Ford Office Depot Worklife Rewards 170/0 250 Running
3 5 5 Kyle Busch Chevrolet Cheez-It / CARQUEST 175/10 250 Running
4 15 31 Jeff Burton Chevrolet Richard Childress Racing 165/5 250 Running
5 7 8 Dale Earnhardt Jr. Chevrolet Budweiser 160/5 250 Running
6 8 1 Martin Truex Jr. Chevrolet Bass Pro Shops / Tracker 155/5 250 Running
7 36 17 Matt Kenseth Ford R+L Carriers 146/0 250 Running
8 17 83 Brian Vickers Toyota Red Bull 147/5 250 Running
9 1 2 Kurt Busch Dodge Miller Lite 143/5 250 Running
10 3 9 Kasey Kahne Dodge Dodge Dealers / UAW 134/0 250 Running
11 11 43 Bobby Labonte Dodge Cheerios / Totino's Pizza Rolls 135/5 250 Running
12 33 6 David Ragan * Ford AAA Insurance 127/0 250 Running
13 22 20 Tony Stewart Chevrolet The Home Depot 129/5 250 Running
14 12 29 Kevin Harvick Chevrolet Shell / Pennzoil 121/0 250 Running
15 13 25 Casey Mears Chevrolet National Guard / GMAC 123/5 250 Running
16 38 26 Jamie McMurray Ford Sharp AQUOS / 3M Vikuiti 115/0 250 Running
17 10 16 Greg Biffle Ford Aflac 112/0 250 Running
18 18 84 A.J. Allmendinger * Toyota Red Bull 109/0 249 Running
19 9 11 Denny Hamlin Chevrolet FedEx Express 106/0 249 Running
20 24 07 Clint Bowyer Chevrolet DIRECTV 103/0 249 Running
21 31 41 Reed Sorenson Dodge Target / Memorex 100/0 249 Running
22 16 24 Jeff Gordon Chevrolet DuPont Cromax Pro 97/0 249 Running
23 32 66 Jeff Green Chevrolet Best Buy 94/0 249 Running
24 20 15 Paul Menard * Chevrolet Johns Manville / Menards 91/0 249 Running
25 14 38 David Gilliland Ford M&M's 88/0 249 Running
26 26 21 Bill Elliott Ford Motorcraft 90/5 248 Running
27 34 96 Tony Raines Chevrolet DLP HDTV 82/0 248 Running
28 39 45 Kyle Petty Dodge Wells Fargo 84/5 248 Running
29 23 18 J.J. Yeley Chevrolet Interstate Batteries 76/0 248 Running
30 41 70 Johnny Sauter Chevrolet Haas Automation 78/5 248 Running
31 40 01 Aric Almirola Chevrolet U.S. Army 70/0 248 Running
32 28 00 David Reutimann * Toyota Burger King 72/5 247 Running
33 42 42 Juan Montoya * Dodge Wrigley's Big Red 64/0 247 Running
34 21 40 David Stremme Dodge Target 61/0 245 Running
35 6 19 Elliott Sadler Dodge Dodge Dealers / UAW 58/0 245 Running
36 27 36 Jeremy Mayfield Toyota 360 OTC 55/0 229 Out of Race
37 43 49 John Andretti Dodge Paralyzed Veterans of America 57/5 203 Out of Race
38 30 22 Dave Blaney Toyota Caterpillar 49/0 201 Out of Race
39 4 12 Ryan Newman Dodge Kodak think: 51/5 194 Out of Race
40 37 88 Ricky Rudd Ford Snickers Generation Max 43/0 179 Out of Race
41 35 7 Robby Gordon Ford Original Roadhouse Grill / Jim Beam 40/0 159 Out of Race
42 25 55 Michael Waltrip Toyota NAPA Auto Parts 37/0 38 Out of Race
43 29 78 Joe Nemechek Chevrolet Furniture Row Racing 34/0 9 Out of Race

* Denotes Rookie

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