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Jimmie Johnson Completes The Sweep In Daytona

| , RacinToday.com Sunday, July 7 2013

Jimmie Johnson spent most of his Saturday night sitting at the front of the field in Daytona. (RacinToday/HHP photo by Brian Lawdermilk)


Jimmie Johnson beat Tony Stewart to the finish line in the Coke Zero 400 at Daytona International Speedway to record the first Sprint Cup season-sweep at the 2.5-mile tri-oval since Bobby Allison accomplished the feat in 1982.

Johnson’s victory Saturday night comes four and a half months after he won the season-opening Daytona 500 at DIS.

Not so surprisingly, Johnson’s latest Daytona victory came in a race that was plagued by big wrecks with two of those occurring on the final laps.

As Johnson crossed the line in his Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet at the end of a green-white-checkered-flag finish, the second of the two multicar accidents erupted behind him. Kevin Harvick of Richard Childress Racing stayed in front of it to run third. He was followed by teammates Clint Bowyer and Michael Waltrip of Michael Waltrip Racing.

“Glad I was ahead of all the chaos,” Stewart, who rode in the back for much of the evening before making his move to the front in the closing laps, said.

Driving a No. 48 Chevrolet SS nicknamed “White Lightning” for its blue-on-white Lowe’s paint scheme, Johnson led 94 of 161 laps and executed key restarts flawlessly as the leader late in the race.

The victory was Johnson’s fourth of the season – tying Matt Kenseth for most in the series – and the 64th of his career. He leads second-place Bowyer by 49 points in the series standings with eight races left before the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup field is set at Richmond.

“Had a great horse to ride; got White Lightning in Victory Lane,” Johnson said after climbing from the car. “It’s tough to [dominate] at a plate track. Especially with how tight the rules are. I think I showed strength early, and a lot of guys were willing to work with me and help me through situations.

“I don’t know if I really made a bad move tonight, so I’m pretty proud of that.”

Johnson’s crew chief, Chad Knaus, said he felt pretty good about his team’s chances before the race started. He said the car that it brought to Daytona was strong off the hauler.

“We came down here with the mindset that we were going to do very similar to what we did for preparation for the Daytona 500 and just run single car runs,” Knaus said. “As the chance of weather started to increase for Friday, we felt like then that first practice session we needed to go out there and try to post a lap in case the weather did come in so we would get a good solid starting spot. It was evident right out of the box that the Lowe’s SS was fast and we got into the draft and Jimmie was able to work and maneuver through the draft really, really well. He had some small concerns and we were able to work on those, and we just ran that first practice session and the car was good. We were really excited about it, looking forward to getting into the race.”

Johnson joined Allison, Fireball Roberts, Cale Yarborough and LeeRoy Yarbrough as the only drivers to sweep both Sprint Cup races at Daytona in a single season.

“Gosh, growing up in Southern California and watching Bobby Allison, and I remember where I was the day [Bobby’s son] Davey passed away (after a 1993 helicopter crash at Talladega),” Johnson said. “That’s how much the Allison family meant to me.

“I always thought it was great to watch Bobby and Davey race, and to do anything Bobby has done is pretty special.”

The five-time champion led the field to the restart on Lap 133 and stayed in the top spot until a six-car crash near the entry to the tri-oval on Lap 149 stacked two-thirds of the field and wrecked the cars of Denny Hamlin (who slammed nose-first into the frontstretch wall), Jeff Gordon, Matt Kenseth, AJ Allmendinger, Dave Blaney and David Reutimann.

The accident stopped the race for eight minutes, 53 seconds while track workers picked up the debris. Johnson led the field to another restart on Lap 154 and two laps later, Ambrose, running third, appeared to hit Johnson’s No. 48 car and knocked the No. 5 Chevrolet of Kasey Kahne into the inside backstretch wall to cause the race’s sixth caution.

“He (Ambrose) had a great run going into Turn 3,” Johnson said. “I mean, he was coming fast. The biggest run I had seen in a lot of laps, so I moved up to block it. Kasey (Kahne) and those guys rolled up inside of me, and then as we came off of Turn 2, the 9 (Ambrose) went shooting down below me, and I don’t know what happened from there. I don’t know where the 5 (Kahne) was or what happened. But the 9 made a strong move to get inside of me, and all I saw was the 9 inside of me, so I assume at some point someone got into the 5 and sent him for a ride.”

Johnson said the 9 never made contact with him. Knaus agreed.

That set up the green-white-checkered finish that took the race one lap past its scheduled distance of 160 laps.

Harvick, who thought he was in excellent position for the final restart, was clearly disappointed with his third-place run.

“Yeah, we didn’t win,” said Harvick, who restarted from the inside lane, beside Johnson and with Bowyer behind him, for the two-lap dash to the finish. “That was our expectation coming here, and that’s the expectation going to the superspeedway tracks … I’m kind of disappointed just for the fact that I felt like we were in the right position.

“I felt like the 15 (Bowyer) was going to be a really good pusher, based on the restart before… I’m a little disappointed because I really felt like we were in the right spot, but it’s hard to complain.”

Johnson had the dominant car, but attrition also helped him, starting with a collision that hobbled four strong cars on Lap 98. The No. 56 Toyota of Martin Truex Jr. got loose off Turn 4 and turned sideways, triggering a wreck that collected the cars of Denny Hamlin, Juan Pablo Montoya and Kyle Busch. The crash ended the winning chances of all but Busch, whose team effected quick repairs to the nose of the No. 18 Camry on pit road.

Busch rallied to finish 12th despite being a victim of the last-lap crash, but Truex, who cracked the top 10 in points after winning at Sonoma to break a 218-race drought, fell out of the race in 41st place and dropped back out of the top 10.

So did Joey Logano, who blew a tire in Turn 2 on Lap 70 and slammed into the outside wall. A week after working his way into the 10th spot in the standings, Logano was out again after being credited with a 40th-place result.

Coke Zero 400 Powered by Coca-Cola

Daytona International Speedway

Daytona Beach, Florida

Saturday, July 06, 2013

1. (8) Jimmie Johnson, Chevrolet, 161, $327961.

2. (13) Tony Stewart, Chevrolet, 161, $254490.

3. (26) Kevin Harvick, Chevrolet, 161, $219101.

4. (3) Clint Bowyer, Toyota, 161, $182073.

5. (7) Michael Waltrip, Toyota, 161, $141365.

6. (22) Kurt Busch, Chevrolet, 161, $150485.

7. (27) Jamie McMurray, Chevrolet, 161, $148185.

8. (16) Dale Earnhardt Jr., Chevrolet, 161, $130715.

9. (19) Casey Mears, Ford, 161, $140373.

10. (21) Ryan Newman, Chevrolet, 161, $147198.

11. (9) Ricky Stenhouse Jr. #, Ford, 161, $158191.

12. (1) Kyle Busch, Toyota, 161, $160488.

13. (32) JJ Yeley, Chevrolet, 161, $109555.

14. (11) Danica Patrick #, Chevrolet, 161, $108655.

15. (28) David Gilliland, Ford, 161, $125813.

16. (17) Jeff Burton, Chevrolet, 161, $115180.

17. (10) Greg Biffle, Ford, 161, $125630.

18. (40) Travis Kvapil, Toyota, 161, $132413.

19. (39) Terry Labonte, Ford, 161, $116063.

20. (20) Trevor Bayne(i), Ford, 161, $104755.

21. (15) Brad Keselowski, Ford, 161, $152746.

22. (38) David Ragan, Ford, 161, $119627.

23. (34) Bobby Labonte, Toyota, 161, $109305.

24. (43) Landon Cassill(i), Chevrolet, 161, $100580.

25. (37) Josh Wise(i), Ford, 161, $100380.

26. (25) Marcos Ambrose, Ford, 161, $126294.

27. (42) Joe Nemechek(i), Toyota, 161, $95430.

28. (36) Scott Speed, Ford, 161, $94805.

29. (12) Carl Edwards, Ford, 161, $132155.

30. (41) David Reutimann, Toyota, 159, $98405.

31. (29) Dave Blaney, Chevrolet, 157, $94230.

32. (4) Kasey Kahne, Chevrolet, Accident, 155, $117105.

33. (2) Matt Kenseth, Toyota, 154, $129996.

34. (23) Jeff Gordon, Chevrolet, Accident, 151, $140766.

35. (33) AJ Allmendinger, Chevrolet, Accident, 149, $101655.

36. (24) Denny Hamlin, Toyota, Accident, 149, $113305.

37. (35) David Stremme, Toyota, Accident, 127, $93317.

38. (30) Aric Almirola, Ford, Accident, 127, $124571.

39. (14) Juan Pablo Montoya, Chevrolet, 126, $110849.

40. (18) Joey Logano, Ford, 105, $107543.

41. (5) Martin Truex Jr., Toyota, Accident, 97, $107710.

42. (31) Michael McDowell, Ford, Vibration, 33, $72135.

43. (6) Paul Menard, Chevrolet, Engine, 23, $97626.

Average Speed of Race Winner: 154.313 mph.

Time of Race: 2 Hrs, 36 Mins, 30 Secs. Margin of Victory: 0.107 Seconds.

Caution Flags: 6 for 27 laps.

Lead Changes: 18 among 11 drivers.

Lap Leaders: Kyle Busch 0; M. Kenseth 1; Kyle Busch 2-25; J. Yeley 26; Kyle Busch 27-30; J. Johnson 31; Kyle Busch 32; J. Johnson 33-70; D. Gilliland 71; D. Ragan 72; D. Hamlin 73-92; J. McMurray 93-100; T. Kvapil 101; J. Wise(i) 102; J. McMurray 103-104; J. Johnson 105-128; J. Yeley 129; J. Burton 130; J. Johnson 131-161.

Leaders Summary (Driver, Times Lead, Laps Led): J. Johnson 4 times for 94 laps; Kyle Busch 3 times for 29 laps; D. Hamlin 1 time for 20 laps; J. McMurray 2 times for 10 laps; J. Yeley 2 times for 2 laps; D. Gilliland 1 time for 1 lap; M. Kenseth 1 time for 1 lap; J. Burton 1 time for 1 lap; D. Ragan 1 time for 1 lap; J. Wise(i) 1 time for 1 lap; T. Kvapil 1 time for 1 lap.

Top 12 in Points: J. Johnson – 658; C. Bowyer – 609; C. Edwards – 587; K. Harvick – 585; D. Earnhardt Jr. – 548; M. Kenseth – 540; Kyle Busch – 533; G. Biffle – 516; Kurt Busch – 501; T. Stewart – 499; M. Truex Jr. – 493; K. Kahne – 490.

| , RacinToday.com Sunday, July 7 2013
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