Becoming the first driver to earn four victories in NASCAR’s annual All-Star race, Jimmie Johnson surpassed the late Dale Earnhardt and teammate Jeff Gordon to sail into the history books after Saturday’s win.
Already a dominate force at Charlotte Motor Speedway, it was simply just a matter of time before Johnson took his place in the history books for NASCAR’s prize event. Although it looked bleak on Friday, as Johnson overshot his pit stall during his qualifying effort, he quickly regained his control on Saturday and waited patiently to make his moves in the last segment.
With his crew changing four tires in just 11 seconds in the night’s final mandatory pit stop, the perfect execution put Johnson back out on the track in second and beside teammate Kasey Kahne for a battle to the finish and a $1 million dollar payout.
With just 10 laps to go to the finish, Johnson and Kahne battled for just a couple of laps before Johnson stretched out his lead and made Sprint Cup history yet again. No one could catch an almost flawless Johnson, who seems to know the ins and outs of the track better than any on the circuit.
Joey Logano would finish the race in second and Kyle Busch in third. Busch, who won two of the first four segments on Saturday night, was an early favorite, but just lacked the momentum and the time to pass Logano and catch Johnson. Kahne would finish in fourth and Kurt Busch in fifth. Kurt split the first four segment wins with his brother Kyle, giving one of the Busch brothers a promising look at potentially winning
But, unfortunately, it was pit stops that seemed to be the turning point. After Saturday’s race, both brothers expressed their disappointment in their finish, blaming less than stellar pit stops for their downfall.
Next week, the Sprint Cup series will return to Charlotte for the Coca-Cola 600. Johnson won three straight 600 victories from 2003-05, but after the track went through the repaving process, lost his power over the track. Now, working to become the car to beat yet again at Charlotte, Johnson’s crew chief Chad Knaus stated they are steadily getting back to figuring out the “science” behind the track once again.
Proving that nothing will stop their rise, Knaus has even made three pit-crew changes over the past week.
After Saturday night’s race when asked about his thoughts on where his career stands at this point, Johnson noted that he felt like it was not a question he should answer and feels that he has a lot of years left in his career.
For his fans, that is a thought that is music to their ears and for his competition, probably not the line that they want to hear coming from an already five-time champion.
About the Author
Written by Ashley Gulick
Sports Journalism is my passion! I keep up with the latest news on pro/college football, NASCAR and baseball....and just about everthing else. I grew up in Talladega, Ala., but moved to Georgia when I was 15. From a young age, I always knew that I wanted to be involved with sports somehow. Once I got into college and completed my degree in Communications, I knew that I had a passion for sports journalism. I have covered sports for the Kennesaw Sentinel (KSU's student paper), Marietta Daily Journal and Douglas County Sentinel.