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Johnson prevails at Atlanta; Las Vegas race next

HAMPTON, Ga. — Jimmie Johnson won the Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 at NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Atlanta Motor Speedway on Sunday for his second straight win at the track and his 76th career victory, tying him with Dale Earnhardt for seventh on the all-time wins list.

 

“It’s such an honor,” Johnson said of tying Earnhardt’s record. “With the chaos at the end and the crash and wondering about overtime and how it worked these days, I kind of lost sight of that. I remembered it on my victory lap coming down, and I had to come by and throw a ‘three’ out the window to pay my respects to ‘the man.’ There’s a huge void in my career that I never had the chance to race with him, but at least I was able to tie his record.”

 

Dale Earnhardt Jr. took runner-up honors to give Hendrick Motorsports a one-two finish. Kyle Busch finished third after starting last. Kurt Busch and Carl Edwards rounded out the top five.

 

“I loved it,” Earnhardt said. “We were sliding around and driving the hell out of the car. I had a blast. I had some good races there on the track with the No. 2 (Brad Keselowski) and the No. 18 (Busch) and a bunch of guys. Man, it was so much fun.”

 

Kevin Harvick dominated throughout the second half of the race until Johnson utilized a pit strategy of pitting early during the final cycle of green-flag pit stops to gain time on newer tires.Johnson made his final stop with 49 laps remaining, nine laps before Harvick.

 

“Definitely a gutsy call,” Johnson said. “It was just a great team effort. The No. 4 (Harvick’s) car was awfully tough, and it was going to take some strategy to get by him. When he told me to whip it as hard as I could, there, I just felt like I was going to take too much life out of the tires, but it worked. And I got rolling around the top and got to where I got this Lowe’s Chevy in victory lane. I’m so happy for Hendrick Motorsports and for everybody at Chevrolet.”

 

Johnson had a lead of more than 14 seconds over Harvick by the time the cycle completed. Harvick was able to cut his deficit to between six and seven seconds before a late-race caution for Ryan Newman’s blown engine bunched up the field.

 

After taking tires, Johnson got off pit road first to maintain his lead and drive on to the win. Harvick restarted next to him on the front row, but dropped back to sixth by the finish.

 

“We had issues about the last three runs,” Harvick said. “I had to start driving the car different. It just required a little bit different handling. And then we had a slow pit stop there. We got way behind and the No. 48 (Johnson) was way out front, and I had to drive the car really hard and got the right-rear burned up. We just didn’t execute today, but everybody on our Jimmy John’s/Busch Chevrolet hung in there all day we’ll keep at it.”

 

Harvick took the lead on lap 136. Prior to Johnson‘s race-winning pit strategy, most of the laps not led by Harvick in the second half were laps during green-flag cycles of stops. Martin Truex Jr. was the only driver able to pass Harvick on the race track, doing so twice, each time leading for about a lap.

 

After pole sitter Kurt Busch showed the way early in the race, Matt Kenseth took the lead on lap 64. Kenseth lost the lead to both Johnson and Harvick, but was the primary leader before a pit road miscue during a cycle of green flag pit stops on lap 121.

 

Kenseth’s No. 20 of Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota team was assessed a penalty for improper fueling because the gas man laid a wrench on the deck lid of the car while the gas can was engaged. To make matters worse, after Kenseth was black-flagged for the penalty, his crew, preoccupied with arguing its case to a NASCAR official, failed to tell Kenseth to pit before NASCAR stopped scoring him. As a result, Kenseth went one lap down, running a lap without being scored, and then another lap when he finally served the penalty.

 

“I got black-flagged for some type of pit road penalty and didn’t know it and pitted the lap they told me to do a pass-through, but I guess they must have been — I’m assuming they were black-flagging us before that and they pulled our card, so I never heard anything about it or at least saw the flag or anything, so I came when they told me to come, and I guess they must have penalized us a couple laps or something. I don’t really know,” Kenseth said.

 

As David Ragan, Aric Almirola, Ryan Blaney and Landon Cassill wrecked on the final lap, Truex finished seventh, Chase Elliott eighth, Brad Keselowski ninth and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. 10th.

 

NOTES: The next stop on the Cup circuit is the Kobalt 400 next Sunday at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. (12:30 p.m., Fox, Ch. 5). … Kyle Busch was fastest in qualifying Friday, but when his car failed post-qualifying inspection, his brother, Kurt Busch, inherited the pole. … Kyle Busch dominated and won the NASCAR Xfinity Series race at Atlanta Motor Speedway on Saturday. Kyle Larson finished second. … Ty Dillon filled-in for the injured Tony Stewart in the No. 14 Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet. … The Atlanta race was the first of the season featuring NASCAR’s lower downforce aerodynamic package. … The 39-car race field Sunday was the smallest for a Cup level race since 1996 at North Wilkesboro (N.C.) Speedway. … Jimmie Johnson won the 2015 race at Atlanta.

  • HAMPTON, Ga. — Jimmie Johnson won the Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 at NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Atlanta Motor Speedway on Sunday for his second straight win at the track and his 76th career victory, tying him with Dale Earnhardt for seventh on the all-time wins list.

     

    “It’s such an honor,” Johnson said of tying Earnhardt’s record. “With the chaos at the end and the crash and wondering about overtime and how it worked these days, I kind of lost sight of that. I remembered it on my victory lap coming down, and I had to come by and throw a ‘three’ out the window to pay my respects to ‘the man.’ There’s a huge void in my career that I never had the chance to race with him, but at least I was able to tie his record.”

     

    Dale Earnhardt Jr. took runner-up honors to give Hendrick Motorsports a one-two finish. Kyle Busch finished third after starting last. Kurt Busch and Carl Edwards rounded out the top five.

     

    “I loved it,” Earnhardt said. “We were sliding around and driving the hell out of the car. I had a blast. I had some good races there on the track with the No. 2 (Brad Keselowski) and the No. 18 (Busch) and a bunch of guys. Man, it was so much fun.”

     

    Kevin Harvick dominated throughout the second half of the race until Johnson utilized a pit strategy of pitting early during the final cycle of green-flag pit stops to gain time on newer tires.Johnson made his final stop with 49 laps remaining, nine laps before Harvick.

     

    “Definitely a gutsy call,” Johnson said. “It was just a great team effort. The No. 4 (Harvick’s) car was awfully tough, and it was going to take some strategy to get by him. When he told me to whip it as hard as I could, there, I just felt like I was going to take too much life out of the tires, but it worked. And I got rolling around the top and got to where I got this Lowe’s Chevy in victory lane. I’m so happy for Hendrick Motorsports and for everybody at Chevrolet.”

     

    Johnson had a lead of more than 14 seconds over Harvick by the time the cycle completed. Harvick was able to cut his deficit to between six and seven seconds before a late-race caution for Ryan Newman’s blown engine bunched up the field.

     

    After taking tires, Johnson got off pit road first to maintain his lead and drive on to the win. Harvick restarted next to him on the front row, but dropped back to sixth by the finish.

     

    “We had issues about the last three runs,” Harvick said. “I had to start driving the car different. It just required a little bit different handling. And then we had a slow pit stop there. We got way behind and the No. 48 (Johnson) was way out front, and I had to drive the car really hard and got the right-rear burned up. We just didn’t execute today, but everybody on our Jimmy John’s/Busch Chevrolet hung in there all day we’ll keep at it.”

     

    Harvick took the lead on lap 136. Prior to Johnson‘s race-winning pit strategy, most of the laps not led by Harvick in the second half were laps during green-flag cycles of stops. Martin Truex Jr. was the only driver able to pass Harvick on the race track, doing so twice, each time leading for about a lap.

     

    After pole sitter Kurt Busch showed the way early in the race, Matt Kenseth took the lead on lap 64. Kenseth lost the lead to both Johnson and Harvick, but was the primary leader before a pit road miscue during a cycle of green flag pit stops on lap 121.

     

    Kenseth’s No. 20 of Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota team was assessed a penalty for improper fueling because the gas man laid a wrench on the deck lid of the car while the gas can was engaged. To make matters worse, after Kenseth was black-flagged for the penalty, his crew, preoccupied with arguing its case to a NASCAR official, failed to tell Kenseth to pit before NASCAR stopped scoring him. As a result, Kenseth went one lap down, running a lap without being scored, and then another lap when he finally served the penalty.

     

    “I got black-flagged for some type of pit road penalty and didn’t know it and pitted the lap they told me to do a pass-through, but I guess they must have been — I’m assuming they were black-flagging us before that and they pulled our card, so I never heard anything about it or at least saw the flag or anything, so I came when they told me to come, and I guess they must have penalized us a couple laps or something. I don’t really know,” Kenseth said.

     

    As David Ragan, Aric Almirola, Ryan Blaney and Landon Cassill wrecked on the final lap, Truex finished seventh, Chase Elliott eighth, Brad Keselowski ninth and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. 10th.

     

    NOTES: Kyle Busch was fastest in qualifying Friday, but when his car failed post-qualifying inspection, his brother, Kurt Busch, inherited the pole. … Kyle Busch dominated and won the NASCAR Xfinity Series race at Atlanta Motor Speedway on Saturday. Kyle Larson finished second. … Ty Dillon filled-in for the injured Tony Stewart in the No. 14 Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet. … The Atlanta race was the first of the season featuring NASCAR’s lower downforce aerodynamic package. … The 39-car race field Sunday was the smallest for a Cup level race since 1996 at North Wilkesboro (N.C.) Speedway. … Jimmie Johnson won the 2015 race at Atlanta.

     
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