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Johnson wins from pole at Brickyard

Jul 28, 2008 - 12:44 AM INDIANAPOLIS (Ticker) -- Last year, Jimmie Johnson's day at Indianapolis Motor Speedway ended with a fiery wreck.

This year, the two-time reigning series champion got to kiss the bricks.

Johnson emerged from the pits first during the final NASCAR-mandated competition caution and held off Carl Edwards on Sunday to win the Allstate 400 at the Brickyard.

"I knew what we were setting up for and (crew chief) Chad (Knaus) called it perfectly and we had a great stop at the end," said Johnson, who started from the pole and led 71 of 160 laps. "Carl put as much pressure on me as he could at the end, but I knew if I hit my marks he wasn't going to pass me."

It was the second win of the season for Johnson, who also became a two-time winner of this prestigious race.

Following Edwards' Ford across the finish line were Denny Hamlin's Toyota, Elliott Sadler's Dodge and Jeff Gordon's Chevrolet.

The race was marred by Goodyear tire troubles on the Car of Tomorrow, which was making its debut at the Brickyard. Tire durability issues forced NASCAR to slow the race with competition cautions designed to make teams change the heavy wear on the rubber.

Because of the cautions, the longest green-flag run of the race was 12 laps.

Cautions were called every 10 to 12 laps - almost one-third of the race - including the final one with 10 laps remaining.

"I like what NASCAR did. It is the only thing they could have done," Dale Earnhardt Jr. said. "The tires wouldn't last and that is the only way we could have put on a show today.

"I am ashamed but there wasn't much we couldn't do, besides load them up and not run at all, that was the best we could do today. I feel bad for NASCAR. They are going to take a lot for this and they certainly don't deserve it."

Johnson was running third when the last yellow flag flew, but took only two tires and jumped ahead of Hamlin and Sadler. Edwards moved up two spots and emerged from the pits behind Johnson.

Johnson took off on the final restart and was not seriously challenged by Edwards, who finished .333 seconds behind the winner.

"At least we got a good run at the end," Edwards said. "I knew it would be me and Jimmie at the end. Man, it would have been cool to win here."

It was Edwards' fourth runner-up finish of the season, with the previous three coming to series leader Kyle Busch.

Busch finished 15th in a Toyota and leads Earnhardt by 253 points. Earnhardt finished 12th after falling a lap down early in the race due to a flat tire after pitting out of sequence.

With the win, Johnson moved up one spot to fourth and sits 315 points behind Busch.

The tire issue first appeared Saturday during practice when drivers learned they could only last less than 10 laps before the rubber was wearing down to the cords. NASCAR and Goodyear hoped the conditions would improve once enough rubber was laid down on the track.

But that didn't happen and NASCAR scheduled a competition caution to check tire wear after 10 laps.

However, it didn't even get that far as Michael Waltrip spun on the fourth lap to bring out the first yellow.

Because of Waltrip's spin, NASCAR pushed back the competition caution back to lap 14, only to see Kurt Busch spin into Kevin Harvick on that lap to bring out another yellow.

Other notable drivers to suffer from tire failure were Juan Pablo Montoya, who lost a tire, and Matt Kenseth, who spun through the grass.

"It's a really, really, really disappointing situation," said Kenseth, who finished 38th. "This is one of the two biggest races of the year. I feel bad for the fans - we're running three-quarters speed because we're worried about the tires blowing out.

"They got blown out every eight laps."

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