Johnson holds off Harvick for Kansas win

Jimmie Johnson
Jimmie Johnson

Jimmie Johnson won a rain-delayed SpongeBob SquarePants 400 at Kansas Speedway that started on Saturday night but ended early Sunday morning.

Staying out on older tires for a restart with six laps to go, Johnson held off a challenge from reigning NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion Kevin Harvick. The six-time series champion led just 10 laps in the race.

The win was Johnson's third of the 2015 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season (all at intermediate tracks), the 73rd of his career and his third win at Kansas. The result also gave Johnson his 200th top-five finish and 300 top-10 finish of his career.

Wet weather brought out the red flag, which lasted over two hours and 16 minutes.

Before that, Johnson made a great save after what looked to be some contact with Hendrick teammate Dale Earnhardt Jr. And as the 48 team has done so often, Johnson charged his way up and ended the night in Victory Lane.

Harvick led 53 laps to go over 1,000 laps led for the season in just 11 races. (He has led 1,006 laps this season.) Interestingly enough, Harvick has been the runner-up in all of Johnson's wins this season. For Harvick, the runner-up showing was his sixth of the season and his 10th top-10 finish in 2015.

Earnhardt Jr. finished third, Jeff Gordon fourth and Joey Logano fifth.

[adinserter name="GOOGLE AD"]The green flag time was moved up 10 minutes to try and get as much of the 267-lap event in before the expected wet weather came. The rains came and 98 laps were completed before the cars were sent down pit road and the red flag was displayed. The early portion of the race saw polesitter Logano, Kurt Busch and Martin Truex Jr. spend significant time in the lead. Defending series champion and current points leader Harvick led for a bit as well.

The start
The start

Logano had his share of misadventures on pit road. Before the delay, Logano pitted for four tires and was set to restart in the top 10 but was penalized as his crew came over the wall too soon. On Lap 186, Logano pitted before pit road was open due to some miscommunication between him and his team. The winner of last fall's Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Kansas had to restart at the rear, giving up a top-five position.

Truex Jr. led a race-high 95 laps, but a late call to pit for fuel only for the final restart with six to go saw him at the mercy of some with fresher tires. He finished ninth for his 10th top-10 of the season.

Erik Jones, who was making his first start in the Sprint Cup Series, led a lap as well. A title contender in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, the 18-year-old Jones started 12th, ran some in the top five and was credited with leading a lap. However, he saw his promising run derailed when he smacked the wall on Lap 196 and ended up with a 40th-place finish.

JIMMIE JOHNSON, NO. 48 LOWE’S CHEVROLET SS – RACE WINNER

AFTER QUALIFYING YESTERDAY YOU WERE SO FRUSTRATED, YET YOU KEPT YOUR HEAD IN THE GAME. YOU HAD THE BEST SAVE OF THE NIGHT HOW DO YOU STAY SO FOCUSED?
“I think experience helps. You just shrug it off. We are trying so hard to get our qualifying under control. We put a huge effort into it again. To be 19th was just … really stunk it wasn’t any fun. These guys just work so hard. I’m so proud of everybody at Lowe’s, KOBALT, Chevrolet, Valvoline, Gatorade, the fans, Sprint for this great series. Just a long hard night of racing and fighting for track position, once we got up front we were able to hang on the final eight or nine laps."

[adinserter name="GOOGLE AD"]YOU MENTIONED ON THE RADIO HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY TO YOUR WIFE. HOW MUCH ARE YOUR GIRLS GOING TO LOVE THAT SPONGEBOB TROPHY?
“Yeah, that trophy is going to be popular at home. I just want to wish Happy Mother’s Day to all the Mom’s out there. My mother and especially my wife Chani (Johnson, wife), hopefully she is still awake. I wish she was here. I wish my girls were here too, but be home tonight and we will have some fun tomorrow."

TALK ABOUT THE CALL TO STAY OUT:
“I could tell he (Chad Knaus) was having a hard time making the decision. I’m kind of running through the events in my mind. We have two wins, we are locked in the Chase, and we are here to win a race, let’s gamble. Let’s go for it. Sure enough it paid off. A few more laps I think the No. 4 (Kevin Harvick) would have had me. He was awfully strong. Obviously being on right side tires would have been an advantage for him. We had just enough time to get this Lowe’s Chevrolet to Victory Lane. Just very proud of the team and the effort that has gone into it. We have great racecars. I wish we would qualify a little better on Friday’s that would make life a lot easier for us. We have a very fast racecar. I’m very proud of this race team."

TELL US WHAT HAPPENED WHEN YOU NEARLY SPUN AT THE BEGINNING OF THE RACE?
“I guess the No. 88 (Dale Earnhardt, Jr.) got close behind me and just him being that close took the air off my spoiler and the car just turned sideways. I felt like I was fine catching it, but a lot of times you will over correct and turn it back into the outside wall. Somehow I didn’t do that, so I was very happy to have my dirt background and keep that thing straight and going in the right direction."

Results

Pos. Car # Driver Manufacturer Start Laps Led Status
1 48 Jimmie Johnson Chevrolet 19 267 10 Running
2 4 Kevin Harvick Chevrolet 6 267 53 Running
3 88 Dale Earnhardt Jr Chevrolet 17 267 0 Running
4 24 Jeff Gordon Chevrolet 11 267 0 Running
5 22 Joey Logano Ford 1 267 29 Running
6 20 Matt Kenseth Toyota 18 267 1 Running
7 2 Brad Keselowski Ford 3 267 43 Running
8 41 Kurt Busch Chevrolet 8 267 20 Running
9 78 Martin Truex Jr Chevrolet 4 267 95 Running
10 31 Ryan Newman Chevrolet 15 267 0 Running
11 43 Aric Almirola Ford 14 267 0 Running
12 16 Greg Biffle Ford 7 267 0 Running
13 1 Jamie McMurray Chevrolet 9 267 0 Running
14 47 AJ Allmendinger Chevrolet 29 267 0 Running
15 42 Kyle Larson Chevrolet 10 267 3 Running
16 9 Sam Hornish Jr Ford 26 267 0 Running
17 5 Kasey Kahne Chevrolet 2 267 0 Running
18 27 Paul Menard Chevrolet 22 267 0 Running
19 13 Casey Mears Chevrolet 24 266 0 Running
20 19 Carl Edwards Toyota 5 266 12 Running
21 15 Clint Bowyer Toyota 21 266 0 Running
22 3 Austin Dillon Chevrolet 28 266 0 Running
23 46 Michael Annett Chevrolet 43 266 0 Running
24 17 Ricky Stenhouse Jr Ford 20 266 0 Running
25 83 Matt DiBenedetto Toyota 35 266 0 Running
26 33 Ty Dillon Chevrolet 32 266 0 Running
27 10 Danica Patrick Chevrolet 27 265 0 Running
28 98 Josh Wise Ford 40 265 0 Running
29 40 Landon Cassill Chevrolet 41 265 0 Running
30 51 Justin Allgaier Chevrolet 25 265 0 Running
31 6 Trevor Bayne Ford 30 265 0 Running
32 38 David Gilliland Ford 38 263 0 Running
33 55 David Ragan Toyota 23 263 0 Running
34 34 Brett Moffitt Ford 39 263 0 Running
35 35 Cole Whitt Ford 34 263 0 Running
36 95 Michael McDowell Ford 31 262 0 Running
37 23 J.J. Yeley Toyota 37 262 0 Running
38 32 Joey Gase Ford 42 262 0 Running
39 14 Tony Stewart Chevrolet 16 258 0 Running
40 18 Erik Jones Toyota 12 242 1 Running
41 11 Denny Hamlin Toyota 13 205 0 Accident
42 26 Jeb Burton Toyota 33 153 0 Rear Gear
43 7 Alex Bowman Chevrolet 36 125 0 Vibration

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