Johnson storms to Brickyard win

Jimmie Johnson put in a superb drive in the Brickyard 400 to become the first driver in 10 years to win both of NASCAR's biggest races in the same season

Johnson storms to Brickyard win

The Hendrick Motorsports driver, who famously came back from adversity after his crew chief was banned from February's Daytona 500, had to do it again at Indianapolis when his left front tyre was punctured on lap 39 of the 160-lap encournter, dropping him to 38th after quick repairs.

However, with a strong car underneath him, Johnson made some stellar passing manoeuvres to take the lead on lap 116 from title rival Matt Kenseth.

Johnson extended that lead until a caution was called for debris 19 laps from the end. After the resultant pitstops he was eighth - having lost a position to Kenseth and being behind seven other cars who had chosen not to stop for tyres.

But at the restart, Johnson soon made his way back to the front, including a mesmerising move around the outside of Kenseth at Turn 2 while they were both battling with traffic.

He had the measure of the Roush Racing driver in the final laps and took the chequered flag by more than two seconds.

It meant he emulated Dale Jarrett, who was the last driver to win both the Daytona 500 and the Brickyard 400 in the same year, in 1996. It was Johnson's 22nd career Nextel Cup victory.

"I was driving to Victory Lane and saw Greg Zipadelli [crew chief of last year's winner, Tony Stewart] and he told me this is a special day and I'm to enjoy it," Johnson said.

"I'm speechless right now, I can't thank my team enough. We had the tyre go down and we rallied back to the front."

It was the first time Johnson had even led a lap at the famous track, after a series of disastrous Brickyard 400s, including a huge crash last year. His previous best finish in the race was ninth in his rookie season of 2002.

"I never thought I'd win at this race track, I've had such a drought at this race track," he said.

"I was really nervous, I knew I had a fast race car and I knew I'd be harder on the tyres. But this baby was money all day - I can't believe how good the car was today.

"This race was not about the championship. I just want to take the trophy home and pucker up and kiss these bricks on the front stretch!"

Kenseth put in strong drive to finish second despite a starting position of 20th, but was not as fast as Johnson at the crucial moments.

"I didn't have anything for him. He came out of nowhere today," Kenseth admitted afterwards.

Both have a comfortable advantage in the race to the Chase for the Cup, and both are all but certain to make the 10-race, 10-driver playoff.

Kevin Harvick, who had been strong in the middle part of the race, finished third, to move up a position to fourth in the Chase standings.

"We had a good car, but we got a little bit behind on the last pitstop," Harvick said. "We put on four tyres but didn't have enough time left."

Clint Bowyer took a gamble on the final pitstop and only took two tyres. However, this paid off, allowing him to vault up to fourth by the finish. It was a good finish the Richard Childress Racing driver, who was in his first race at the speedway.

Mark Martin was thankful for the final caution period, because he was able to stop under yellow to fix a suspected loose wheel, which had threatened to ruin his race. He finished fifth, ahead of Dale Earnhardt Jr, whose race was also saved by the final caution period.

Earnhardt was having a lacklustre day, and was running in 30th when the final caution came out. But crucially he was one of the few who risked not changing tyres under the final caution period.

He led briefly, but his sixth place finish was good enough to move him back into the tenth Chase position after he dropped out thanks to a brace of last place finishes in the recent races at New Hampshire and Pocono.

With Earnhardt Jr moving back into the top ten, Kasey Kahne dropped out, but only thanks to a huge accident on the final lap of the race.

While Johnson was taking the crowd's cheers ahead, Kahne was involved in a collision with Tony Stewart, which turned Kahne headfirst into the wall.

Kahne climbed out of his car unaided, but in that one move he fell to 35th, meaning he lost four spots in the championship battle and dropped out of the Chase positions.

Tony Raines was classified 11th despite jumping in the air after running over debris from that smash and Denny Hamlin also coasted to a halt after being caught up in the aftermath. He was classified 13th, with the field being frozen after the caution came out.

In a separate incident on the final lap, Robby Gordon and Greg Biffle hit each other and spun, finishing 34th and 36th respectively.

Former race winner Jeff Gordon recovered well after hitting trouble in the opening laps after his front anti-roll bar broke on his Number 24 Chevrolet Monte Carlo.

He lost three laps after repairs to his car, but rallied back to 16th, to consolidate his position in the Chase.

Pos Driver Make Laps 1. Jimmie Johnson Chevrolet 160 2. Matt Kenseth Ford 160 3. Kevin Harvick Chevrolet 160 4. Clint Bowyer Chevrolet 160 5. Mark Martin Ford 160 6. Dale Earnhardt Jr. Chevrolet 160 7. Kyle Busch Chevrolet 160 8. Carl Edwards Ford 160 9. Tony Stewart Chevrolet 160 10. Kurt Busch Dodge 160 11. Tony Raines Chevrolet 160 12. Jeff Burton Chevrolet 160 13. Denny Hamlin Chevrolet 160 14. Ken Schrader Ford 160 15. Ryan Newman Dodge 160 16. Jeff Gordon Chevrolet 160 17. Brian Vickers Chevrolet 160 18. David Stremme Dodge 160 19. Martin Truex Jr. Chevrolet 160 20. Scott Wimmer Chevrolet 160 21. Scott Riggs Dodge 160 22. Bill Elliott Chevrolet 160 23. Casey Mears Dodge 160 24. Joe Nemechek Chevrolet 160 25. Jamie McMurray Ford 160 26. Kyle Petty Dodge 160 27. Travis Kvapil Chevrolet 160 28. Dale Jarrett Ford 160 29. Reed Sorenson Dodge 160 30. Dave Blaney Dodge 160 31. Sterling Marlin Chevrolet 160 32. Kenny Wallace Chevrolet 160 33. Greg Biffle Ford 160 34. J.J. Yeley Chevrolet 160 35. Kasey Kahne Dodge 159 36. Robby Gordon Chevrolet 159 37. Mike Skinner Dodge 159 38. Jeff Green Chevrolet 159 39. Chad Chaffin Dodge 158 40. Bobby Labonte Dodge 135 41. Jeremy Mayfield Dodge 82 42. Boris Said Ford 20 43. Elliott Sadler Ford 3 
shares
comments
Burton takes Brickyard pole

Previous article

Burton takes Brickyard pole

Next article

Knaus extends Hendrick contract

Knaus extends Hendrick contract
Load comments

About this article

Series NASCAR
Author Tim Redmayne
Why a British prospect is trying to make it in NASCAR Plus

Why a British prospect is trying to make it in NASCAR

There has never been a full-time British driver in the NASCAR Cup. But Alex Sedgwick, who is rising through the stock car ranks, wants that to change and could be a trailblazer for European talents to reach the top echelons of the NASCAR ladder

NASCAR
Feb 28, 2021
How Earnhardt’s death changed American motorsport Plus

How Earnhardt’s death changed American motorsport

It's 20 years since legendary driver Dale Earnhardt Sr died at the Daytona 500, but the legacy of his crash continues today through the pioneering safety work done by NASCAR

NASCAR
Feb 18, 2021
The NASCAR subplots to keep an eye on in 2021 Plus

The NASCAR subplots to keep an eye on in 2021

This weekend's Daytona 500 kickstarts a NASCAR Cup season that promises plenty of intrigue courtesy of new owners and a refreshed calendar. Here's what you need to know ahead of the new season

NASCAR
Feb 12, 2021
How a second-chance NASCAR ace is rebuilding his career Plus

How a second-chance NASCAR ace is rebuilding his career

From a disgraced NASCAR exile, Kyle Larson has been given a shot at redemption by the powerhouse Hendrick Motorsports squad. Replacing seven-time champion Jimmie Johnson is no easy billing, but Larson has every intention of repaying the team's faith

NASCAR
Feb 11, 2021
Autosport's top 5 NASCAR machines Plus

Autosport's top 5 NASCAR machines

The American stock car scene is more famous for its close racing and occasional punch-ups, but there have been some fantastic machines too. As part of Autosport's 70th anniversary celebrations in 2020, we picked out five of its best

NASCAR
Jan 3, 2021
Why NASCAR's latest second-generation champion is just getting started Plus

Why NASCAR's latest second-generation champion is just getting started

Chase Elliott's late charge to the 2020 NASCAR Cup title defied predictions that it would be a Kevin Harvick versus Denny Hamlin showdown. While the two veterans are showing no signs of slowing down, Elliott's triumph was a window into NASCAR's future

NASCAR
Nov 17, 2020
Why Johnson’s playoff failure won’t tarnish his legacy Plus

Why Johnson’s playoff failure won’t tarnish his legacy

The last season of a retiring NASCAR great has shown promise, and may have resulted in another playoff push without small issues outside his control. 2020 won't be the year Jimmie Johnson would have wanted, but it won't be what he is remembered for

NASCAR
Sep 3, 2020
Why a Le Mans winner is heading into the “unknown world” of NASCAR Plus

Why a Le Mans winner is heading into the “unknown world” of NASCAR

Comparing Porsche's 919 HYBRID LMP1 to NASCAR is motorsport's equivalent of apples and oranges, but this weekend one of Weissach's top works aces will pit his skills against the regulars and revive the tradition of the 'road-course ringer'

NASCAR
Aug 13, 2020