NASCAR Atlanta: Johnson beats Earnhardt to take first win of season

Jimmie Johnson moved level with Dale Earnhardt on 76 top-tier NASCAR career wins, and equal seventh on the all-time winners' list, with an overtime victory in Atlanta's Sprint Cup race

NASCAR Atlanta: Johnson beats Earnhardt to take first win of season

The six-time champion took the lead with 40 laps remaining after a daring pitstop from third place, which undercut long-term leader Kevin Harvick and gave him a 14-second lead.

Harvick closed him in when Ryan Newman's tyre failure brought out a caution with three laps to go, assuring the race would end in overtime.

But Dale Earnhardt Jr moved past the Stewart-Haas driver at the restart to claim second, 0.06s behind Johnson, while Kyle Busch completed the top three in a thrilling finish.

Johnson sat third for a large part of the race, behind Harvick and Martin Truex Jr, and took a gamble by pitting earlier for fresh tyres on lap 276 of 330.

He timed it to perfection as Harvick stopped nine laps later and fell a long way back, allowing the Hendrick Motorsports star to maintain a comfortable lead.

In overtime, he held off the fast-starting Busch, and then Earnhardt Jr, to claim back-to-back wins at Atlanta.

Busch will perhaps be as happy as Johnson, after he fought his way through the field from last on the grid.

Last year's Sprint Cup champion set the fastest time in qualifying before being excluded when his Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota failed technical inspections, allowing his brother, Kurt, to inherit pole.

But Kyle kept his nose clean throughout the race to claim an impressive top-three finish, ahead of his brother and Carl Edwards.

Kurt led the race for most of the first 64 laps, before losing it to Matt Kenseth - who had made his way forward from 13th on the grid.

But a penalty for improper fuelling ended his hopes of making it to victory lane.

From there, Harvick and Truex took up the charge before Johnson leapfrogged them both through the pits.

Harvick slumped to sixth in overtime, while Truex had to settle for seventh - a week after he lost out to Denny Hamlin and finished second in the Daytona 500.

RESULTS - 330 LAPS:

Pos Driver Team Car Gap
1 Jimmie Johnson Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet 3h15m38.s
2 Dale Earnhardt Jr. Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet 0.557s
3 Kyle Busch Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota 0.569s
4 Kurt Busch Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet 0.974s
5 Carl Edwards Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota 1.408s
6 Kevin Harvick Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet 1.420s
7 Martin Truex Jr. Furniture Row Racing Toyota 1.629s
8 Chase Elliott Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet 1.803s
9 Brad Keselowski Team Penske Ford 1.845s
10 Ricky Stenhouse Jr. Roush Fenway Racing Ford 4.976s
11 Austin Dillon Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet 8.285s
12 Joey Logano Team Penske Ford 22.925s
13 Greg Biffle Roush Fenway Racing Ford 1 Lap
14 Casey Mears Germain Racing Chevrolet 1 Lap
15 Aric Almirola Richard Petty Motorsports Ford 2 Laps
16 Denny Hamlin Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota 2 Laps
17 Ty Dillon Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet 2 Laps
18 Paul Menard Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet 2 Laps
19 Matt Kenseth Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota 2 Laps
20 Danica Patrick Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet 2 Laps
21 Jamie McMurray Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet 2 Laps
22 Trevor Bayne Roush Fenway Racing Ford 2 Laps
23 Kasey Kahne Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet 2 Laps
24 Ryan Newman Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet 2 Laps
25 Ryan Blaney Wood Brothers Racing Ford 2 Laps
26 Kyle Larson Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet 3 Laps
27 A.J. Allmendinger JTG Daugherty Racing Chevrolet 4 Laps
28 Chris Buescher Front Row Motorsports Ford 4 Laps
29 Matt DiBenedetto BK Racing Toyota 4 Laps
30 Michael Annett HScott Motorsports Chevrolet 5 Laps
31 Brian Scott Richard Petty Motorsports Ford 6 Laps
32 David Ragan BK Racing Toyota 7 Laps
33 Michael McDowell Circle Sport-Leavine Family Racing Chevrolet 7 Laps
34 Regan Smith Tommy Baldwin Racing Chevrolet 7 Laps
35 Clint Bowyer HScott Motorsports Chevrolet 8 Laps
36 Landon Cassill Front Row Motorsports Ford 9 Laps
37 Cole Whitt Premium Motorsports Chevrolet 12 Laps
38 Jeffrey Earnhardt Go FAS Racing Ford 17 Laps
39 Josh Wise The Motorsports Group Chevrolet 18 Laps
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