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Johnson Powers To Victory At Kansas Speedway

Jim Pedley | Managing Editor, RacinToday.com Monday, October 10 2011

Jimmie Johnson collected his first checkered flag of the Chase Sunday when he won at Kansas Speedway. (RacinToday/HHP photo by Alan Marler)

KANSAS CITY, Kan. – Jimmie Johnson had a dominating car at Kansas Speedway on Sunday afternoon and he used it to win the fourth race of the Chase for the Sprint Cup championship.

Johnson led 197 of the green/white/checkered restart-extended race, beating Kasey Kahne to the finish line by .548 seconds.

The victory moved Johnson from fifth to third in points. He will head to Charlotte Motor Speedway for next week’s race four points behind leader Carl Edwards, who finished fifth Sunday, and three behind Kevin Harvick, who was sixth at Kansas.

“This sport is so tough,” Johnson said. “Look at all the second places we have this year, we have been close but just have not got the job done. We were glad to get the win done today. Big win for Mr. Hendrick, 199 and also Chevrolet winning the Manufacturing Championship, couldn’t do without all them and all the great people at Lowes’, they have been behind us since day one. We did our job today and hopefully we can do it six or seven more times.”

Brad Keselowski finished third Sunday while Matt Kenseth was fourth.

Edwards’ fifth-place finish was remarkable in that the Roush Fenway Racing driver sunk

Carl Edwards' crew goes to work at Kansas Speedway. (RacinToday/HHP photo by Alan Marler)

like and anchor from his No. 2 starting spot after the race started.

He would fall all the way off the lead lap.

“I had a hint of it in the first corner when we drove down,” Edwards said. “I was like, ‘man, this is not good.’ I thought maybe it would be better the next lap but it wasn’t so by the second lap I realized we were in trouble. That was the worst my car has felt in a race in a long time.”

But his team – and luck – went to work for Edwards and he stormed back to his top-five finish.

“Well there were two things that happened,” he said. “We had the wrong front suspension setting in the car. Bob and I together in practice prepared the wrong setup. They dropped the green and I realized we were in deep trouble. Bob made adjustments to the setup, bigger than we would normally make. We were very fortunate with the late race caution and getting two tires and have a shot to run up there through the traffic.”

Rounding out the top 10 were Clint Bowyer, seventh; polesitter Greg Biffle eighth; Marcos Ambrose, ninth and Mark Martin 10th.

As dominating as Johnson’s car was Sunday, he should not have been forced into a sweat. But, when a caution fell three laps from the end and with him holding a 2.2 second lead over Kahne, he was.

On the green/white/checkered restart, Johnson was nearly perfect and held Kahne off.

“Yeah,” Kahne said, “I thought if I could get a good restart I’d have a shot because my tires were a little fresher than his. Jimmie was the car to beat all day that I could tell, so I knew he was going to be fast once we got going, and he actually just jumped – like he took off before I expected him to, so I just was thinking it was going to be a little bit later, and when he took off I kind of jumped it and hit the throttle maybe a little too aggressively, spun the tires and then got them back and was accelerating, and Brad had a good start behind me and was pushing me at the same time because we weren’t to the line yet, so he pushed me, and it ended up working out all right as far as being in the second place, but I didn’t have a shot at all when I got to Turn 1.

“He had a car length on me. So at that point I just tried to build a couple corners, and I got to him getting to 3 on the final corner, and that’s when he just kind of went across and I just never really got it to turn.”

– Jim Pedley can be reached at jpedley@racintoday.com

Jim Pedley | Managing Editor, RacinToday.com Monday, October 10 2011
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