NEXTEL Sharp AQUOS 500Final
Johnson wins Sharp Aquos 500Sep 3, 2007 - 5:46 AM FONTANA, California (Ticker) -- Jimmie Johnson took the checkered flag at California Speedway on Sunday in the Nextel Cup Series Sharp Aquos 500.
It was Johnson's fifth victory of the season and 28th career. In a Chevrolet Monte Carlo, Johnson held off the Chevrolet of Carl Edwards to register his first win since May 6.
"It's been a few months since we won and it's good to be back," Johnson said.
Johnson became one of eight drivers to qualify for the NASCAR's "Chase for the Championship." Johnson, a native of El Cajon, California, now has two victories at his hometown track.
With the win Johnson has clinched at least a share of the No.1 seed in the "Chase."
"It's very satisfying," Johnson said. "This season is all about a championship, especially when you get in the "Chase". "We're fortunate to be in that situation, it's time for the pressure to pick up and the hard work to start and my guys are ready for it."
Tony Stewart relinquish the lead to Casey Mears with 23 laps remaining to make a pit stop and Johnson took the lead one lap later when Mears made a pit stop. The defending series champion was never challenged by Edwards over the final laps.
Kyle Bush finished third in a Chevrolet, followed by the Chevrolet of Jeff Burton, who won Saturday's Busch series race here. Dale Earnhardt's Chevrolet rounded out the top five.
The top non-Chevrolet finisher was Matt Kenseth, who drove his Ford Fusion to a seventh place finish.
Kurt Busch finished ninth in a Dodge Charger and jumped into 11th in the standings past Kevin Harvick, who holds a 128-point advantage over Earnhardt for the 12th and final spot in the "Chase."
"I don't know much about the standings, I have never cared to," Earnhardt said. "I just go out there and try and run as hard as I can. It doesn't look like we are going to make it, but we're not going to quit trying until they tell us were out."
With one race remaining before the "Chase," Clint Bowyer, Martin Truex Jr., Kurt Busch and Harvick will look to secure their spot next week in Richmond.
Johnson noted that this win is something to build on as he tries to repeat as the series champion. "We've had a lean summer and this win is certainly going to help us get that last bit of confidence back," Johnson said.
"We're going to a great track and all the races in the "Chase" are all really good tracks for us, so we're hitting our stride right where we need to and hopefully we can become a champion again."
Jeff Gordon placed 22nd after being involved in an accident on lap 180. Gordon still maintains a 317-point lead in the series standings over Stewart despite finishing no better than 19th over his last three races.
The race saw 11 cautions, spanning 53 laps.
- Sharp Aquos 500 Preview Sep 2