Chalk another win up for Johnson
I don’t have a favorite driver, but after this weekends race that may change. Jimmy Johnson can thank Dale Earnhardt Jr for the win it what is now the closest finish in Nascar Sprint Cup history.
With pushing help from Dale Earnhardt Jr. on the final lap, Jimmie Johnson edged Clint Bowyer by the slimmest of margins to win Sunday’s Aaron’s 499 at Talladega Superspeedway.
Johnson, the five-time defending Sprint Cup Series champion, worked with his Hendrick Motorsports teammate, Earnhardt Jr., in a two-car tandem for a majority of the 500-mile race.
Earnhardt Jr. pushed Johnson on the inside lane, while Richard Childress Racing teammates Kevin Harvick and Bowyer and the Hendrick duo of Mark Martin and Jeff Gordon ran on the outer lanes through turns three and four on the last lap around the 2.66-mile superspeedway.
Johnson pulled ahead of Bowyer for the lead just yards away from the finish line, and then beat Bowyer to the line by only 0.002 seconds for his second Talladega win. His first victory here came in May 2006.
Johnson’s margin of victory tied the closest race finish in NASCAR’s top-tier series since the sanctioning body began using electronic timing and scoring in 1993. Ricky Craven beat Kurt Busch by the same margin in the 2003 spring race at Darlington.
“We got hooked up and rolling, and then all of the sudden, there were two groups in front of us,” Johnson said. “We had a big run on the backstretch. Then I just rode through three and four, and I’m thinking, ‘We’ll get another chance I hope.’ They were all worried about each other in the second and third lane and left the bottom lane open. We had some big momentum on our side and off we went. It was great how the plan worked out.”
Johnson claimed his 54th career Cup victory, but his first since last September at Dover (15 races ago).