Sunday, February 28, 2016

Jimmie Johnson Wins at Atlanta, Ties Dale Earnhardt

Originally written for CLNS Radio.

Jimmie Johnson won the Fold of Honor QuikTrip 500 from Atlanta Motor Speedway on Sunday afternoon after a late wreck caused the race to end under caution.

Photo courtesy Matt Sullivan/Getty Images
Johnson had to use strategy to get ahead of Kevin Harvick, who was the most dominant car all day.  When a late caution came out, Johnson’s pit crew got him out in first.  Johnson said his crew chief’s call to short-pit with 50 laps to go was what got him the victory.  

“Definitely a gutsy call,” Johnson said.  “The 4 car [of Harvick] was awfully tough and it was going to take some strategy to get by him.”

The victory was the 76th of Johnson’s career, which ties him with Dale Earnhardt.  Johnson said it was an honor to tie a legend.

“With the chaos at the end…I kind of lost sight of that,” Johnson said.  “I remembered on my victory lap coming down and had to come by and throw a ‘3’ out the window to pay respects to the man.”

“There’s a huge void in my career that I never got to race with him, but at least I was able to tie his record there.”

Harvick led a race-high 131 laps, but a bad restart at the end of the race caused him to finish sixth.  Harvick said the handling on his car changed over the last few runs.

“We had issues about the last three runs and I had to start driving the car different,” Harvick said.  “Then we had a slow pit stop and got way behind the 48 [of Johnson].  Just didn’t execute today.”

Unofficial results:
1. Jimmie Johnson
2. Dale Earnhardt Jr.
3. Kyle Busch
4. Kurt Busch
5. Carl Edwards
6. Kevin Harvick
7. Martin Truex Jr.
8. Chase Elliott
9. Brad Keselowski
10. Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
11. Austin Dillon
12. Joey Logano
13. Greg Biffle
14. Casey Mears
15. Aric Almirola
16. Denny Hamlin
17. Ty Dillon
18. Paul Menard
19. Matt Kenseth
20. Danica Patrick
21. Jamie McMurray
22. Trevor Bayne
23. Kasey Kahne
24. Ryan Newman
25. Ryan Blaney
26. Kyle Larson
27. AJ Allmendinger
28. Chris Buescher
29. Matt DiBenedetto
30. Michael Annett
31. Brian Scott
32. David Ragan
33. Michael McDowell
34. Regan Smith
35. Clint Bowyer
36. Landon Cassill
37. Cole Whitt
38. Jeffrey Earnhardt
39. Josh Wise 

Photo courtesy Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

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