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Johnson rolls to Vegas victory on four-tyre call

“Well, you know, if we'd won the race we'd look like geniuses, Steve would have. The fact that we lost the race, now Chad looks like a genius. That's how it goes sometimes. When you're leading, that's the toughest position to be in, to make that call.

“You know, I felt like we needed to come in and get some tyres, but I felt like two tyres was the right call, too. We just needed the 48 to take two. They did the opposite of us. That won the race for them.”

On equal tyres, Johnson had chased Gordon throughout the afternoon but without success. When rookie Kevin Conway slammed into the Turn 2 wall on lap 228 to bring out the seventh and final caution of the race, Johnson's No. 48 Chevrolet was more than a second behind the No. 24 of his team-mate.

“Man, I did all I could for the three runs before that, and I had nothing for him,” Johnson reflected after jumping from twelfth to fifth in the Cup standings, 63 points off the lead now. “I could get close [and] then couldn't get the pass pulled off. We had a great race car all day long. I think he (Gordon) really showed the strength of the Hendrick cars when Jeff and I checked out from everyone. In the end, we had a car that was right on that last run.”

Harvick drove through the field after scraping the wall during Friday's first practice session and qualifying 34th.

“I just have to thank all my guys – they did a great job this weekend after crashing into the wall there at the beginning of practice and putting us behind for the start of the weekend,” praised the Richard Childress Racing ace, who retained the series points lead by 47 over team-mate Bowyer.

“We had a good enough car to come through the field, [but] just came up a little bit short again this week. Still, [it was] a good day for us. [We] led a lap and did what we had to do.”

Pole-sitter Kurt Busch was a casualty of a lap 93 crash involving Earnhardt Ganassi Racing team-mates Jamie McMurray and Juan-Pablo Montoya and finished 35th, eight laps down.


by Reid Spencer / Sporting News




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