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Johnson's Vegas jackpot.

Jimmie Johnson led more than a hundred laps and took a deserving victory in an exciting, crash-filled UAW-DaimlerChrysler 400 at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

In what may have been the most exciting Nextel Cup race at Las Vegas to date, save for a couple of laps at the tail of the 2004 race, Johnson outclassed the rest of a rambunctious field, leading more than 100 of the 267 laps to take his 15th career Cup win.

Despite Johnson's dominance in the #48 Hendrick Motorsport Chevrolet, the third round of the 2005 Championship gave fans a fine display of close racing through the field, a race that inspires confidence in the new rules package after a jittery start in Fontana two weeks ago.

But even with a clear second, and occasionally a third groove in evidence for much of the day, especially the closing stages, nobody could match Johnson.

Johnson finally got the better of Ryan Newman on lap 213 after a lengthy exchange through several caution periods in which Johnson was stronger on the track, Newman quicker in the pits.

However Johnson's Chad Knaus led crew got it right when it mattered most and kept their man ahead through the final round of stops 40 laps from home.

Once the green flag waved on lap 229 Johnson was able to distance himself from his nearest followers as they squabbled amongst themselves and would eventually lead home rookie teammate and Las Vegas native Kyle Busch by several seconds.

The final 40 laps may have been comfortable for last year's title runner-up, but the preceding 227 certainly weren't on a day that saw both a record number of caution flags (11) and a record number of lead changes (25).

In addition to losing time repairing a damaged side fender, Johnson and his crew were also delayed by the most bizarre pit road incident when a removed lug nut bounced back onto the wheel stud from pit road during a tyre stop.



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