Among the things I learned on Sunday from Fontana include…
-you don’t tug on Superman’s cape.
-you don’t spit into the wind.
-you don’t put up for long with ole Lex Luthor
-and you don’t mess around with Jim.
Jimmie Johnson, that is. For most of the day, the field had to deal with Kevin (just call him Lex) Harvick, who led early and led often. About the only time he did not lead was when he unnecessarily came in early to dump a perfectly good set of tires in a vain bid to eliminate a vibration. Then he was back. In fact, he might have gotten away with it, if not for Kyle Busch.
Busch was among a number of drivers that were relevant on the day and was running second when he discovered the limitations of the track. That came in the form of the outside wall after a tire indicated that it not longer wished to be of service. Caution waved, the Kryptonite was removed from the track, Busch was left in 25th, and this allowed for the possible finale moviegoers had hoped for.
After the restart, Johnson moved down to the line, hugged it tightly, and came up to Harvick’s rear quarter-panel. A bit of side drafting tugged Luthor…ahem…Harvick…back enough to set Johnson sailing right by and into the lead. In the end, no super villain, no Kryptonite, not even Batman could stop the inevitable from happening. SuperJimmie won his 77th career victory and marked the 15th straight season that he was won at least twice during the campaign.
As for Batman, Dale Earnhardt, Jr. could not get by any of the jokers, penguins, or riddlers. He got up to the horizon, but never challenged, finishing 11th. By the way, Superman should always trump Batman. One is an alien who our sun bestows with superpowers while the other is an athletic rich guy with a lot of neat contraptions. No contest.
Denny Hamlin finished third, and really was nowhere to be seen for the first 150 laps, but was visible in the end. Joey Logano was fourth on the day, was in the vicinity of the lead for much of the time, but probably was best remembered by Martin Truex Jr. as the guy who turned him enough to cause him to solidly tag the fence to turn a good day into 32nd. Also notable were Chase Elliott, who was fifth, while Carl Edwards came in just behind to record yet another solid effort.
“I’m alright, it really hurt, though,” was the report from Kyle Larson after he lost a tire, touched the outside wall before experiencing a huge impact against the infield barrier that put him up where he did not belong. Danica Patrick was not Supergirl, but she went flying after Kasey Kahne turned her into the wall to demolish her entry. That set the Danica Line artificially to 38th on the day, just one behind Greg Biffle and just ahead of Larson.
With his win, Johnson moves one ahead of Dale Earnhardt on the all-time list, sitting sixth behind Richard Petty, David Pearson, and Jeff Gordon, while he is eight wins away from passing by the likes of Bobby Allison, Darrell Waltrip, and Cale Yarborough. I do not think anyone is betting the farm against that happening this year, at least, not yet.
The good news for the field is that Johnson will not win next week. Neither will Harvick, Hamlin, or Kyle Busch, all of whom have been writing headlines over the first five events. After a week off, they all return for Martinsville, a place Kyle Busch has never won. Harvick has just one, compared to Hamlin’s five. Then you have Superman, as one must ask themselves if eight is enough? Well, not if you are within just six wins of the great Cale Yarborough it’s not. Meanwhile, my best wishes to you over Easter.