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Johnson wins at Fontana

Jimmie Johnson takes his 48th career Sprint Cup win in the Auto Club 500
A career came full circle for Jimmie Johnson, who won his first NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Auto Club Speedway in 2002 and on Sunday claimed his fifth victory at the two-mile track and the 48th of his career — matching the #48 on his Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet.

After gaining the lead in the Auto Club 500 during a fortunate exchange on pit road, the four-time defending series champion held off Kevin Harvick during a 20 lap green-flag run to the finish. Harvick had narrowed a one-second lead to 0.311 seconds on lap 246 of 250 before a brush with the wall slowed his progress.

Jeff Burton ran third, followed by Mark Martin and Joey Logano. Kurt Busch, Matt Kenseth, Clint Bowyer, Tony Stewart and Greg Biffle completed the top ten.

With the win, Johnson tied Herb Thomas for twelfth on the career victory list and showed the rest of the field that he's back on course after a 35th-place finish in the season-opening Daytona 500.

The key sequence came on lap 223, when Brad Keselowski spun his Dodge off turn four after contact with David Reutimann's Toyota and brought out the sixth and final caution of the race. Johnson was on pit road when NASCAR called the caution but beat the pace car to the scoring line at the exit.

When the rest of the lead-lap cars pitted under the yellow, Johnson inherited the lead and held it for a restart on lap 231.

“They're really good, but they're also really, really lucky,” Harvick said. “They have a golden horseshoe stuck up their ass — there's no getting around that.”

Johnson acknowledged his good fortune after climbing from his car in victory lane.

“Today, fortune came our way,” Johnson said. “We hit pit road, and the caution came out and gave us track position. We lost the handle in the second half of the race. We were making gains coming back, but a lot of other guys were ahead of us, and I knew it would be tough to pass them.

“I'm not going to lie — the fact that we were on pit road gave us track position, and I drove my butt off. We finally got the car turning — it was just a little too loose. The 29 (Harvick) was coming, but then he hit the wall and let us get it.

“Yes, we were lucky today, but you don't get lucky and win four championships and 48 races.”

Just as intense as Harvick's pursuit of Johnson was Burton's battle with Harvick, his Richard Childress Racing teammate and the new Cup points leader through two races.


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Related Pictures

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Jimmie Johnson wins the Auto CLub 500 [Pic credit: Getty for NASCAR]
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser Chevrolet SS finished 1st, Kasey Kahne, driver of the #5 Great Clips Chevrolet SS finished 37th Saturday, April 12, 2014 in the NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Darlington Raceway in Darlington South Carolina. Harvick  is 22nd, Kahne is 23rd in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) standings. Teammates Dale Earnhardt, Jr., driver of the #88 National Guard Chevrolet SS finished 2nd and Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Kobalt Tools Chevrolet SS finished 3rd.(Photo Credit: HHP/Christa L. Thomas for Chevrolet)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser Chevrolet SS celebrates his win Saturday, April 12, 2014 in the NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Darlington Raceway in Darlington South Carolina. Harvick is 22nd in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) standings. Teammates Dale Earnhardt, Jr., driver of the #88 National Guard Chevrolet SS finished 2nd and Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Kobalt Tools Chevrolet SS finished 3rd. (Photo Credit: HHP/Tami Kelly-Pope for Chevrolet)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser Chevrolet SS celebrates his win Saturday, April 12, 2014 in the NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Darlington Raceway in Darlington South Carolina. Harvick is 22nd in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) standings. Teammates Dale Earnhardt, Jr., driver of the #88 National Guard Chevrolet SS finished 2nd and Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Kobalt Tools Chevrolet SS finished 3rd. (Photo Credit: HHP/Christa L. Thomas for Chevrolet)
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Chase Elliott, driver of the #9 NAPA Auto Parts Chevrolet, celebrates in Victory Lane after winning the NASCAR Nationwide Series VFW Sport Clips Help A Hero 200 at Darlington Raceway on April 11, 2014 in Darlington, South Carolina. (Photo Credit: NASCAR Via Getty Images)
Chase Elliott, driver of the #9 NAPA Auto Parts Chevrolet, celebrates in Victory Lane after winning the NASCAR Nationwide Series VFW Sport Clips Help A Hero 200 at Darlington Raceway on April 11, 2014 in Darlington, South Carolina. (Photo Credit: NASCAR Via Getty Images)
Damage to the winshield of Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe`s Spring is Calling Chevrolet, is repaired on pit road during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Duck Commander 500 at Texas Motor Speedway on April 7, 2014 in Fort Worth, Texas.  (Photo Credit: Chris Graythen/Getty Images for Texas Motor Speedway)
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Chase Elliott, driver of the #9 NAPA Auto Parts Chevrolet, celebrates in victory lane after winning the NASCAR Nationwide Series O`Reilly Auto Parts 300 at Texas Motor Speedway on April 4, 2014 in Fort Worth, Texas. (Photo Credit: Chris Graythen/Getty Images for Texas Motor Speedway)
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Chase Elliott, driver of the #9 NAPA Auto Parts Chevrolet, celebrates in Victory Lane after winning the NASCAR Nationwide Series O`Reilly Auto Parts 300 at Texas Motor Speedway on April 4, 2014 in Fort Worth, Texas. (Photo Credit: Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)
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Chase Elliott, driver of the #9 NAPA Auto Parts Chevrolet, takes the chequered flag to win the NASCAR Nationwide Series O`Reilly Auto Parts 300 at Texas Motor Speedway on April 4, 2014 in Fort Worth, Texas.  (Photo Credit: Jared C. Tilton/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #5 Hunt Brothers Pizza Chevrolet, leads Kyle Busch, driver of the #54 Monster Energy Toyota, during the NASCAR Nationwide Series O`Reilly Auto Parts 300 at Texas Motor Speedway on April 4, 2014 in Fort Worth, Texas.  (Photo Credit: Sean Gardner/NASCAR via Getty Images)
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Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe`s Chevrolet SS (left) battles Kurt Busch, driver of the #41 Haas Racing Chevrolet SS Sunday, March 30, 2014 during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Martinsville Speedway in Martinsville, Virginia. Busch won the race. Johnson finished second.  (Photo by HHP/Garry Eller for Chevy Racing)

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