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Johnson Uses Skill To Get Victory In Vegas

| , RacinToday.com Sunday, February 28 2010
Jimmie Johnson signed autographs before Sunday's race in Las Vegas and then picked up the trophy afterward. (Photo courtesy of NASCAR)

Jimmie Johnson signed autographs before Sunday's race in Las Vegas and then picked up the trophy afterward. (Photo courtesy of NASCAR)


Jimmie Johnson passed teammate Jeff Gordon for the lead with 16 laps to go and went on to win Sunday’s Shelby American at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

The pass came after Johnson took four new tires on the final pit stop, which was preceded by a caution that came out with 39 laps to go, while Gordon took just two.

It was the second victory of the season and second straight for Johnson, who is attempting to win his fifth straight Sprint Cup championship.

“No luck involved in that one,” Johnson’s crew chief, Chad Knaus said on the radio as Johnson took the checkered flag, referring the fact that his driver had to get lucky on a pit stop to win last week at Auto Club Speedway.

Gordon, who led 219 laps – all but 48 – in his Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet, finished third.

“Man,” Johnson said, “that was one heck of a race all afternoon long. Jeff and I were racing each other so hard. It is so cool to be in Vegas and get this bad boy (Trophy Belt). Jeff and I were racing so hard at the end of the day. I wasn’t sure if I was going to get away from him once I got by him and I did and I was able to get out and away from him.

“Everything worked well. Great day in the pits. Great day on the track. We have a lot of store managers here from Lowe’s, bit sales conference going on this week, it is going to be a lot of fun. I will stick around and see them Tuesday. Just so proud of this Lowe’s race team and everything we are doing in these Chevys.”

Gordon refused to blame his crew chief, Steve Letarte, for taking just two tires.

“We just thought more guys were going to take two tires,” Gordon said. “We fought (Johnson) for as long as we could.”

Kevin Harvick of Richard Childress Racing, who led the series in points, finished second and kept his lead.

Mark Martin of Hendrick was fourth in Vegas and Matt Kenseth of Roush Fenway Racing was fifth in a Ford.

Joey Logano was sixth in a Joe Gibb Racing Toyota while Tony Stewart of Stewart-Haas Racing was seventh in a Chevy.

Kurt Busch started the race on the pole but lost the lead on the first lap to Gordon. Busch slowly fell backward from there and on lap 93 got caught up in a wreck involving Earnhardt-Ganassi Racing teammates Jamie McMurray and Juan Pablo Montoya.

Busch fell three laps off the pace as his crew attempted to fix the damages. Montoya fell 17 laps off the pace while McMurray stayed on the lead lap.

As he stood in the garages watching his car being repaired, Montoya took a verbal chunk out of McMurray, saying his teammate seems to feel compelled to prove his win at Daytona was not a fluke.

Harvick heads to Atlanta with a 47-point lead over teammate Clint Bowyer, who finished eighth Sunday. Martin is third in points, two behind Bowyer.

Johnson jumped seven spots to fifth place.

The victory was the 49th of his career and fourth at Las Vegas.

(This story will be updated shortly)

| , RacinToday.com Sunday, February 28 2010
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