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Johnson dominant in second straight Pepsi 500 win

Sep 1, 2008 - 4:54 AM FONTANA, California (Ticker) -- Jimmie Johnson cruised to his second straight triumph at the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Pepsi 500 on Sunday - and recorded his third win of the season in the process.

The two-time reigning Cup champion, Johnson had earned the pole with a lap of 180.397 miles per hour. He clearly had the strongest car as he stormed back every time he relinquished the lead at Auto Club Speedway.

Driving the Lowe's No. 48 Chevrolet, Johnson set a new track record by leading 227 of the 250 laps and averaged 165.68 mph.

He surged past Greg Biffle on lap 189, but was beaten out of pit row by Biffle on lap 219. As he did all race, Johnson charged ahead of Biffle on Turn 3 of lap 223 and never looked back.

Johnson broke Biffle's mark of 168 laps led set here in 2006.

"This race car was unbelievable," Johnson said. "We've been working hard to get it right. We've been burning the midnight oil, burning the wick at both ends, and it's paid off.

"We clinched (a spot in the Chase for the championship) and we got 10 more bonus points, which is important."

Meanwhile, it was a bittersweet end for Biffle, who finished second. Despite a valiant effort, he saw his winless streak extended to 32 straight races.

"It's frustrating no matter who or when you get beat," Biffle said. "On the inside we're so competitive and we want to win, and my guys had done such a great job on pit road, it was kind of a little bit of extra adrenaline.

"I drove as hard as I've driven in a long time. I was just on the edge and I was running him down. I got within probably 10 car lengths of him and was catching him two-tenths a lap, but he would get better as the run went anyway."

Following Biffle were Denny Hamlin, Kevin Harvick and Matt Kenseth. Series runner-up Carl Edwards, Kasey Kahne, points leader Kyle Busch, David Reutimann and Clint Bowyer rounded out the top 10.

"We ran alright. It's great to be disappointed as hell with sixth place," Edwards said. "That's wonderful, but we really wanted three in a row. But we can go win the next three in a row, too. Sixth place is definitely not a win, but it's not running terrible."

Dale Earnhardt Jr., who finished 11th, clinched a spot in "The Chase", while Hamlin and Bowyer boosted their chances of continuing racing. Bowyer entered right on the fringe in 12th place, while Hamlin was 11th in the Sprint Cup standings.

Jeff Burton, who finished 17th on Sunday, also clinched spots in the 12-man Chase for the championship that will begin after Saturday's Chevy Rock 'n Roll 400 in Richmond, Virginia.

They joined Busch and Edwards as drivers who have qualified for the race.

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