(WOMR file photo)
For eleven weeks Jimmie Johnson has been asked the question, “when are you going to win a race”? For eleven weeks the HMS #48 Lowe’s team came up short, and for eleven weeks that question continued to float around the media. Johnson answered that question loud and clear Sunday night at the Coca Cola 600!
The victory, while his first of the year, was his seventh at the Charlotte Motor Speedway, leading a race best 165 of the 400 lap race en route to his 67th career win.
“It wasn’t in my head,” he said of talk about his 12-race winless “drought” in 2014.
“Twelve long races (since his last win). I guess we’ve created this environment for ourselves. I honestly wasn’t stressing. The fact that 12 races created that much buzz just means we’ve done a lot of great things over the years, so I’ll turn it into a compliment”, Johnson told a reporter.
Johnson started from the pole and led all but three of the first 75 laps. On Lap 76 of the 400-lap race, Harvick used a lapped car as a pick and got past Johnson for the lead.
On lap 108, a caution flag waved for debris, erasing a 5-plus second lead by Harvick. During ensuing pit stops, Harvick was able to leave the pits first and restart with the lead on Lap 114. Ten laps later, however, Harvick’s lead was well over a second on second-place Johnson.
Harvick’s lead lasted until he was beaten off pit road by Johnson during a caution on Lap 148.
Johnson then led until the next caution, which came on Lap 164. While most of the lead-lap cars pitted, Brad Keselowski did not and assumed the lead.
On lap 192, Harvick, who did pit for fuel and tires, caught and passed the gambling Keselowski for the lead.
He held the lead until lap 223 when yet another debris caution flag come out.
While Harvick and most of the lead pack drivers pitted under yellow, Dale Earnhardt Jr. did not and took the lead. Also not pitting were McMurray and Tony Stewart. Harvick and Johnson were first off pit road and led those who pitted.
For the next 100 laps the lead changed hands between Jamie McMurray, Matt Kenseth, Johnson, and Jeff Gordon.
With nine laps to go, Johnson moved to Kenseth’s rear bumper and then bumped it a bit when Kenseth moved down to block. Kenseth was force up and Johnson moved past for the lead.
From there, it was clear sailing to the checkers!
TIL NEXT TIME, I AM STILL WORKING ON MY REDNECK!