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Johnson wins again to widen Chase lead

Jimmie Johnson secures another Chase win as he targets further success in the NASCAR Sprint Cup
Saturday night's NASCAR Banking 500 was appropriately named. After winning the race as his two closest pursuers fell by the wayside, Jimmie Johnson can all but take his fourth straight NASCAR Sprint Cup title to the bank.

Johnson, who started from the pole and led all three practice sessions for the fifth race in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup, pulled away during a 17-lap run to the finish and beat runner-up Matt Kenseth to the finish line by 2.303 seconds.

In winning his sixth race of the year and the 46th of his career — tying Buck Baker for 13th on the all-time list — Johnson extended his series lead to 90 points over second-place Mark Martin, who finished 17th. Kasey Kahne ran third, and Jeff Gordon came home fourth to climb to third in the standings, 135 points behind Johnson.

With the victory, Johnson completed a weekend sweep, having won the pole and having led all three practice sessions for the race. Johnson is the first driver to win the fall race at Charlotte from the pole since Harry Gant accomplished the feat in 1982.

Despite his 90-point advantage, Johnson wasn't ready to claim a record fourth straight title.

“We're only halfway through this thing,” he said. “So much can happen. Somebody at Martinsville (next week) can lose their brakes and clean you out. With the double-file restarts, there's going to be a lot of bumping and banging. Somebody can get into you and knock a valve stem out or cut a tyre.

“It's a nice points lead; there's no need for anybody to get too excited yet. We've got good tracks ahead for us, so from a team standpoint, we're excited and optimistic. But at the same time, there's a lot of danger out there, and we've just got to be smart.

“If we don't have a problem, I feel we have a very good chance to win this championship — racing for it.”

Rookie Joey Logano edged Clint Bowyer for fifth, and Casey Mears, Kyle Busch, Martin Truex Jr. and Kurt Busch completed the top ten.

A restart on lap 125 did significant damage to the cars of Martin and Juan Pablo Montoya, as well as to their Chase aspirations. The field slowed as Gordon brought the cars to the green flag, and when Montoya checked up behind Bowyer, Martin hit the #42 Chevrolet hard enough to knock the rear quarter panel askew.

The impact also damaged the nose of Martin's #5 Chevy, but Montoya was the bigger loser in the exchange. Fighting the handling of his damaged car, he spun off turn four on lap 164, hit a commitment cone at the entrance to pit road and lost two laps in the process. Montoya finished 35th and fell from third to sixth in the standings, 195 points behind Johnson.




Related Pictures

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Jimmie Johnson, driver of the No. 48 Lowe’s Chevrolet, celebrates after winning Saturday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series NASCAR Banking 500 at Lowe’s Motor Speedway in Concord, N.C. The win was Johnson’s third in the first five races of the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup. (John Harrelson/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe’s Chevrolet SS, holds his daughter, Lydia Sunday, November 22, 2015 before final race of the 2015 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season at Homestead-Miami Speedway in Homestead, Florida. Johnson and other Jeff Gordon teammates at Hendrick Motorsports wore tribute hats to honor the retiring Chevy driver prior to the start of the race. (Photo by Alan Marler/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Jeff Gordon, driver of the #24 Axalta Chevrolet SS, races to a sixth place finish Sunday, November 22, 2015 in the final race of the 2015 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season at Homestead-Miami Speedway in Homestead, Florida. Gordon finishes third in the Chase for the Cup Championship. This was Gordon`s last race as a NASCAR Sprint Cup driver. He has made 796 consecutive Cup Series starts, earned 93 wins, and 81 poles - all behind the wheel of Chevrolets. (Photo by Andrew Coppley/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Defending Sprint Cup Champion Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser/Jimmy John’s Chevrolet SS, races to a second place finish, Sunday, November 22, 2015 in the final race of the 2015 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season at Homestead-Miami Speedway in Homestead, Florida. Harvick finishes as the runner-up in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Championship. (Photo by Andrew Coppley/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Defending Sprint Cup Champion Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser/Jimmy John’s Chevrolet SS, races to a second place finish, Jeff Gordon, driver of the #24 Axalta Chevrolet SS finishes in sixth place, and Martin Truex, Jr., driver of the #78 Furniture Row/Visser Precision finishes in twelfth place Sunday, November 22, 2015 in the final race of the 2015 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season at Homestead-Miami Speedway in Homestead, Florida. This Chevrolet drivers finished 2nd, 3rd and 4th (respectively) in the Chase of the Cup Championship. (Photo by Harold Hinson/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Ryan Blaney and the Motorcraft/Quick Lane Racing Team battled back from a bad re-start after the first caution of the race to finish 17th in the season-ending Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway. (Photo Credit: Campbell Marketing)
Series championship contenders Jeff Gordon, driver of the #24 AXALTA Chevrolet, Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser/Jimmy John`s Chevrolet, Martin Truex Jr., driver of the #78 Furniture Row/Denver Mattress Chevrolet, and Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 M&M`s Crispy Toyota, take part in pre-race ceremonies for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 22, 2015 in Homestead, Florida.  (Photo Credit: Chris Trotman/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Former racing driver Mario Andretti, Jeff Gordon, driver of the #24 AXALTA Chevrolet, and Formula One World Champion Lewis Hamilton pose during pre-race ceremonies for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 22, 2015 in Homestead, Florida.  (Photo Credit: Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)
Joey Logano, driver of the #22 Shell Pennzoil Ford, and Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 M&M`s Crispy Toyota, race during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 22, 2015 in Homestead, Florida (Photo Credit: Chris Trotman/Getty Images)
Jeff Gordon, driver of the #24 AXALTA Chevrolet, pits during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 22, 2015 in Homestead, Florida. (Photo Credit: Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)
A general view as cars pit during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 22, 2015 in Homestead, Florida. (Photo Credit: Robert Laberge/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser/Jimmy John`s Chevrolet, Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 M&M`s Crispy Toyota, Jeff Gordon, driver of the #24 AXALTA Chevrolet, and Martin Truex Jr., driver of the #78 Furniture Row/Denver Mattress Chevrolet, race during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 22, 2015 in Homestead, Florida. (Photo Credit: Chris Trotman/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 M&M`s Crispy Toyota, crosses the finish line to win the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 22, 2015 in Homestead, Florida.  (Photo Credit: Jonathan Ferrey/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 M&M`s Crispy Toyota, celebrates winning the series championship and the race with a burnout after the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 22, 2015 in Homestead, Florida. (Photo Credit: Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 M&M`s Crispy Toyota, celebrates winning the series championship and the race in Victory Lane after the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 22, 2015 in Homestead, Florida. (Photo Credit: Sean Gardner/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 M&M`s Crispy Toyota, celebrates winning the series championship and the race with his team after the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 22, 2015 in Homestead, Florida. (Photo Credit: Chris Trotman/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 M&M`s Crispy Toyota, celebrates with the trophy in Victory Lane after winning the series championship and the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 22, 2015 in Homestead, Florida. (Photo Credit: Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
Kyle Larson, driver of the #42 Target Plaid Chevrolet, practices for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 21, 2015 in Homestead, Florida. (Photo Credit: Jonathan Ferrey/NASCAR via Getty Images)

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Bliz - Unregistered

October 19, 2009 5:24 PM

The Chase is a fraud. There are 4 1.5 mile tracks out of 10... these are where JJ excels. You might as well put 4 road courses in the chase and then marvel at how Tony Stewart keeps winning. It's not JJ fault, but it's an ABSOLUTE FRAUD...



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