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Jimmie Johnson Back on Winning Track at Sonoma

Harvick's Luck Takes Him to Victory Lane

Jimmie Johnson scratched another item off his bucket list—but not without unintended help from Marcos Ambrose.

Johnson inherited the lead in Sunday's Toyota/Save Mart 350 at Infineon Raceway when Ambrose failed to keep up with the pace car during the final caution of the 110-lap race and pulled away from Robby Gordon in the final five laps to win the first road-course race of his career.

Ambrose had opened a lead of more than two seconds over Johnson when Brad Keselowski spun and stalled in Turn 7 to bring out the seventh caution on Lap 103. Attempting to save fuel during the caution laps, Ambrose lost power and slowed, and his No. 47 Toyota failed to refire.

Ambrose's engine finally started, but by then, the first six cars in the running order had passed him. Consequently, Ambrose restarted seventh with five laps left and was able to recover one position before the finish.

“Boys … finally,” Johnson radioed to his crew after crossing the finish line. “Better be ready to drink some beer here in a little bit. Woohoo! About time! Boooyah!”

Johnson won for the fourth time this season and the 51st time in his career, breaking a tie for 10th on the all-time list with Junior Johnson and Ned Jarrett. The victory was the 15th on a road course for Hendrick Motorsports, the most for one organization.

Ambrose could only reflect on what might have been. Only three other foreign drivers—and no Australian—had ever won a Cup race. Nor had team owners Tad Geschickter, Jodi Geschickter and Brad Daugherty.

“I was leading the race and had trouble getting the motor cranked back up a little bit there, and NASCAR made the call,” Ambrose said as he walked back to his transporter after the race. “I was trying to save fuel, and the motor shut off. It didn't recrank the way it should. I didn't stop rolling, but it is what it is.

“I don't think (NASCAR should have made that call). But that's in my opinion, because I lost the race. There's not a lot of words to say. I'm just sorry for my guys.”

Johnson crossed the finish line 3.105 seconds ahead of Gordon and moved up four spots in the standings to second, 140 points behind leader Kevin Harvick, who ran third. Harvick began the day 22 points ahead of Kyle Busch, 47 ahead of Hamlin and 118 ahead of Kurt Busch. But all three struggled. Kyle Busch finished 39th, Hamlin 34th and Kurt Busch 32nd.




Related Pictures

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Jimmie Johnson in Winners Circle at Sonoma
Ryan Newman, driver of the #31 Caterpillar Chevrolet SS,  qualified for seventh position Friday, October 31, 2014 for Sunday`s Eliminator 8 NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth, Texas. Newman, who is in the Chase, is second in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) standings. (Photo by Rusty Jarrett/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser Chevrolet SS, qualified for fifth position Friday, October 31, 2014 for Sunday`s Eliminator 8 NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth, Texas. Harvick, who is in the Chase, is eighth in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) standings. (Photo by Harold Hinson/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe’s Red Vest Chevrolet SS qualified for third position Friday, October 31, 2014 for Sunday`s NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth, Texas. Johnson is shown with his crew chief, Chad Knaus. (Photo by Harold Hinson/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Jeff Gordon, driver of the #24 Drive To End Hunger Chevrolet SS qualified for second position Friday, October 31, 2014 for Sunday`s Eliminator 8 NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth, Texas. Gordon, who is in the Chase, leads the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) standings . (Photo by Christa L Thomas/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Matt Kenseth, driver of the #20 Dollar General Toyota, poses with the Henry repeating rifle pole award after qualifying for pole position for during Pinnacle Propane Qualifying for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series AAA Texas 500 at Texas Motor Speedway on October 31, 2014 in Fort Worth, Texas.  (Photo Credit: Tom Pennington/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Matt Kenseth, driver of the #20 Dollar General Toyota, poses with the Coor`s Light Pole Award after qualifying for pole position for during Pinnacle Propane Qualifying for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series AAA Texas 500 at Texas Motor Speedway on October 31, 2014 in Fort Worth, Texas.  (Photo Credit: Tom Pennington/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Tony Stewart, driver of the #14 Bass Pro Shops / Mobil 1 Chevrolet, drives during Pinnacle Propane Qualifying for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series AAA Texas 500 at Texas Motor Speedway on October 31, 2014 in Fort Worth, Texas.  (Photo Credit: Matt Sullivan/Getty Images)
Joe Gibbs Racing`s Matt Kenseth in qualifying. (Photo Credit: Rainier Ehrhardt/NASCAR via Getty Images)
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Austin Dillon, driver of the #33 Grainger Chevrolet, leads Kyle Busch, driver of the #54 Monster Energy Toyota, during practice for the NASCAR Nationwide Series O`Reilly Auto Parts Challenge at Texas Motor Speedway on October 31, 2014 in Fort Worth, Texas. (Photo Credit: Brian Lawdermilk/NASCAR via Getty Images)
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Brian Vickers, driver of the #55 Aaron`s Dream Machine Toyota, practices for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series AAA Texas 500 at Texas Motor Speedway on October 31, 2014 in Fort Worth, Texas. (Photo Credit: Matt Sullivan/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser Chevrolet, stands in the garage area practice for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series AAA Texas 500 at Texas Motor Speedway on October 31, 2014 in Fort Worth, Texas.  (Photo Credit: Jonathan Ferrey/NASCAR via Getty Images)
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Johnny Sauter, driver of the #98 Smokey Mountain/Curb Records Toyota, practices for the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series WinStar World Casino & Resort 350 at Texas Motor Speedway on October 30, 2014 in Fort Worth, Texas.  (Photo Credit: Sarah Glenn/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Johnny Sauter, driver of the #98 Smokey Mountain/Curb Records Toyota, leads Ryan Blaney, driver of the #29 Cooper Standard Ford, during practice for the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series WinStar World Casino & Resort 350 at Texas Motor Speedway on October 30, 2014 in Fort Worth, Texas.  (Photo Credit: Tom Pennington/Getty Images for Texas Motor Speedway)

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