Sunday, March 18, 2007

Jimmie Johnson wins Atlanta Nextel Cup race

Atlanta Motor Speedway is known for fantastic finishes. In fact, Jimmie Johnson was on the wrong end of one of those finishes in 2005 when he was nosed out by Carl Edwards. So after winning in Las Vegas last week, Johnson was looking to go on a hot streak at Sunday's Kobalt Tools 500. Ryan Newman won the pole but changed an engine on Saturday and had to go to the bacxk. That meant Johnson was actually on the pole.

After Saturday's Busch Series race, there was concern about tire wear. But the teams were very careful about that so it wasn't an issue. Jimmie Johnson's #48 Lowe's/Kobalt Tools Chevy is in the lead. Trouble for Kyle Busch's #5 Kellogg's/Carquest Chevy. He makes an unscheduled pit stop on lap 19 with a vibration. It turned out to be a loose wheel. He went a lap down and was never able to recover and finished 32nd.

A debris caurion came out on lap 36. Everyone pits and Jeff Gordon's #24 Dupont Chevy leads off pit road with Jimmie Johnson second. Tony Stewart's #20 Home Depot Chevy moves up from fourth to take the lead on lap 43. Johnson gets the lead back on lap 79 just as green flag pit stops begin. Kurt Busch's #2 Miller Lite Dodge leads when pit stops cycle through on lap 91. Johnson's back in the lead by lap 107.

Another debris caution comes out on lap 142. Everyone pits and Johnson trades the lead with Jeff Gordon & Matt Kenseth's #17 DeWalt Tools Ford. More green flag pit stops. On lap 193, Gordon has trouble with his pit stop. It turns out to be a problem with the inside panel of the front right wheel well. Gordon eventually goes a lap down and finishes 12th. Scott Riggs' #10 Stanley Tools Dodge blows an engine to bring out a caution on lap 222. Everyone pits and Johnson continues to lead.

Big crash on lap 230. Greg Biffle's #16 Jackson Hewitt Ford clips David Reutimann's #00 Domino's Pizza Toyota into the wall and collects Brian Vickers' #83 Red Bull Toyota & Kasey Kahne's #9 UAW/Dodge Dealers Dodge. More pit stops and Johnson leads on lap 237. Tony Stewart gets the lead on lap 238. Another debris caution on lap 270. Everyone pits. This could be the final pit stop if the race goes green. The Chevys & Dodges can probably make it to the end on fuel. The Fords can't.

Fuel mileage is taken out of the equation with a debris caution on lap 309. Stewart continues to lead with Kenseth second and Johnson third. Johnson gets around Kenseth and catches Stewart on lap 320. Stewart tries to hold him off but Johnson gets the lead on lap 322 and squeezes Stewart to the outside. Stewart brushes the wall and Johnson pulls away and wins the race. Afterwards, Stewart said that he could have raced Johnson if he hadn't been squeezed into the wall but Johnson did exactly what he was supposed to do and Stewart would have done the same thing in that situation. Check out the video evidence for yourself.

Congratulations to Jimmie Johnson, crew chief Chad Knaus and car owner Rick Hendrick on the win. Big top ten finishes for Juan Pablo Montoya, Clint Bowyer, Martin Truex Jr. & Reed Sorenson. Mark Martin finished tenth and still leads the points but he will not race next week in Bristol as planned. Rookie Regan Smith will be in the #01. Also, next week will mark the debut of the much heralded Car Of Tomorrow. Here's the top ten of the race.


1.48/Jimmie Johnson/Kobalt Tools-Lowe's/Chevy/Rick Hendrick

2.20/Tony Stewart/Home Depot/Chevy/Joe Gibbs

3.17/Matt Kenseth/DeWalt Tools/Ford/Jack Roush

4.31/Jeff Burton/Cingular/Chevy/Richard Childress

5.42/Juan Pablo Montoya/Texaco Havoline/Dodge/Chip Ganassi

6.07/Clint Bowyer/DirecTV Hotpass/Chevy/Richard Childress

7.99/Carl Edwards/Office Depot/Ford/Jack Roush

8.1/Martin Truex Jr./Bass Pro Shops/Chevy/Dale Earnhardt Inc.

9.41/Reed Sorenson/Target/Dodge/Chip Ganassi

10.01/Mark Martin/US Army/Chevy/Bobby Ginn

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