Johnson Ties ‘The Intimidator’ with 76 Career Wins

by Tucker White On Sun, Feb. 28, 2016

Photo Credit: Noel Lanier

HAMPTON, Ga.– Jimmie Johnson put himself amongst the hallowed legends of NASCAR after scoring the victory at Atlanta. The driver of the No. 48 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet led 52 of the 330 laps on his way to scoring his 76th career win in the Sprint Cup Series. This victory moved him up to seventh in the all-time NASCAR wins list in a tie with the late Dale Earnhardt.

“It’s such an honor,” Johnson said. “With the chaos at the end and the crash, wondering about overtime and how it worked these days, I kind of lost sight of that. I remembered on my victory lap coming down and I had to come by and throw a 3 out the window to pay respects to the man. There’s a huge void in my career that I never had a chance to race with him, but at least, I was able to tie his record there.”

Meanwhile, teammate Dale Earnhardt Jr. finished runner-up in his No. 88 HMS Chevrolet.

“I loved it. We were sliding around and driving the hell out of the car. I had a blast. I had some good races there on the track with the No. 2 (Brad Keselowski) and the No. 18 (Kyle Busch) and a bunch of guys. Man, it was so much fun,” Earnhardt said.

After starting 39th, Kyle Busch led two laps and finished third in his No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota. Brother Kurt led 62 laps on his way to a fourth-place finish in his No. 41 Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet. Carl Edwards led one lap and rounded out the top-five in his No. 19 JGR Toyota.

Despite leading the most laps at 131, Kevin Harvick stumbled on the final restart and finished sixth in his No. 4 SHR Chevrolet.

“We had issues about the last three runs. I had to start driving the car different. It just required a little bit different handling. And then we had a slow pit stop there. We got way behind and the No. 48 (Jimmie Johnson) was way out front and I had to drive the car really hard and got the right rear burned up,” Harvick said.

Martin Truex Jr. led 34 laps on his way to finishing seventh in his No. 78 Furniture Row Racing Toyota.

Chase Elliott was the highest finishing rookie in eighth in his No. 24 HMS Chevrolet.

“I am really proud of the effort today. Really really solid NAPA Chevrolet. Just happy to be a part of this team. Everybody fought awfully hard. We are excited about today. I think it is something to build off of. It’s not perfect, it’s a start,” Elliott said.

Brad Keselowski finished ninth in his No. 2 Team Penske Ford. Ricky Stenhouse Jr. rounded out the top-10 in his No. 17 Roush Fenway Racing Ford.

Matt Kenseth had a strong car early in the race leading 47 laps, but he was black-flagged for improper fueling. While the fuel person had the can engaged with the fuel intake, he put a tool on the back of the car. According to the NASCAR rule book, if the can is engaged with the car, the fuel person cannot do anything else but fuel the car. While crew chief Jason Ratcliff was arguing the call, the black flag message was not relayed to the driver of the No. 20 JGR Toyota. Three laps after being black flagged, he was given the black flag with a white cross meaning he wouldn’t be scored until he served the penalty. After staying out a lap, he eventually served the penalty and went from fourth to 32nd two laps down.

After two races, Kyle Busch leads the point standings by three points over Truex while Harvick is third, four points behind the leader.

The race lasted three hours, 15 minutes and 38 seconds at an average speed of 155.863 mph. There were 28 lead changes among eight different drivers. The race went the first 209 laps caution-free before a piece of debris on the backstretch brought out the first caution. There were three cautions for a total of 13 laps.

Complete Finishing Order:

1. (19) Jimmie Johnson, Chevrolet, 330.
2. (16) Dale Earnhardt Jr, Chevrolet, 330.
3. (39) Kyle Busch, Toyota, 330.
4. (1) Kurt Busch, Chevrolet, 330.
5. (7) Carl Edwards, Toyota, 330.
6. (6) Kevin Harvick, Chevrolet, 330.
7. (9) Martin Truex Jr, Toyota, 330.
8. (24) Chase Elliott #, Chevrolet, 330.
9. (17) Brad Keselowski, Ford, 330.
10. (5) Ricky Stenhouse Jr, Ford, 330.
11. (8) Austin Dillon, Chevrolet, 330.
12. (26) Joey Logano, Ford, 330.
13. (14) Greg Biffle, Ford, 329.
14. (15) Casey Mears, Chevrolet, 329.
15. (27) Aric Almirola, Ford, 328.
16. (12) Denny Hamlin, Toyota, 328.
17. (18) Ty Dillon(i), Chevrolet, 328.
18. (21) Paul Menard, Chevrolet, 328.
19. (13) Matt Kenseth, Toyota, 328.
20. (25) Danica Patrick, Chevrolet, 328.
21. (2) Jamie McMurray, Chevrolet, 328.
22. (3) Trevor Bayne, Ford, 328.
23. (11) Kasey Kahne, Chevrolet, 328.
24. (4) Ryan Newman, Chevrolet, 328.
25. (23) * Ryan Blaney #, Ford, 328.
26. (20) Kyle Larson, Chevrolet, 327.
27. (22) AJ Allmendinger, Chevrolet, 326.
28. (31) Chris Buescher #, Ford, 326.
29. (35) Matt DiBenedetto, Toyota, 326.
30. (34) Michael Annett, Chevrolet, 325.
31. (10) Brian Scott #, Ford, 324.
32. (33) David Ragan, Toyota, 323.
33. (32) Michael McDowell, Chevrolet, 323.
34. (30) Regan Smith, Chevrolet, 323.
35. (28) Clint Bowyer, Chevrolet, 322.
36. (29) Landon Cassill, Ford, 321.
37. (36) * Cole Whitt, Chevrolet, 318.
38. (38) Jeffrey Earnhardt #, Ford, 313.
39. (37) * Josh Wise, Chevrolet, 312.

** The opinions expressed on this site are not necessarily those of the publisher. All comments other than website related problems need to be directed to the author. (c)SpeedwayMedia.com. **

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