Food City 500 Race Recap: Johnson Earns 50th Career Victory and First at BMS

2010 Bristol Mar NSCS view of track 

BRISTOL, Tenn.—In a milestone race Sunday at Bristol Motor Speedway, Jimmie Johnson—the last driver third-place finisher Kurt Busch wanted to see win the race—took the checkered flag for the 50th time in his NASCAR Sprint Cup career in the Food City 500.

Taking four tires on his final pit stop on Lap 484 of 500, and fortuitously drawing the outside lane for a restart on Lap 491, Johnson surged past four cars that had taken only right-side tires and passed runner-up Tony Stewart for the lead on Lap 494.

Busch, who had led 278 laps and restarted fifth after a four-tire call, was bottled up in the inside lane behind Matt Kenseth and Carl Edwards and watched in frustration as Johnson worked past fourth-place finisher Greg Biffle and Stewart for the lead.

“We did it, boys—finally,” Johnson exclaimed after crossing the finish line.

The win was the first at the .533-mile high-banked short track for the four-time defending Cup champion and his third in five races this season. With 50 Cup victories, Johnson is tied Junior Johnson and Ned Jarrett for 10th on the all-time list.

“Man, we have worked so hard for this,” Johnson said in victory lane. “I thought we were in trouble there, but those four tires were everything, and I was in the outside lane (for the restart), which was helpful. About time, man. I’m so proud of this team. I am so proud of us setting a mark and going at it and accomplishing what we wanted to.

“We’ve been off here over the years. We focused on what we needed to do and got it done today."

Johnson also fired a shot across the bow of fellow competitors who might think the No. 48 Chevrolet team is peaking early.

“Well, we have a lot of racing left—there is no doubt about it,” he said. “But when we’re winning at tracks we aren’t supposed to, the boys better look out—even that No. 2 car (Busch) that doesn’t want the No. 48 to win.”

Johnson’s pointed reference was to Busch’s “Anybody but the 48” campaign.

“I’d rather lose to any of the 41 cars out there than this 48 car,” Busch said. “I thought we had them beat. I gave it my heart today, but to come up short … it’s a shame we didn’t bring it home for a victory.

“I felt like we had the car to beat early on in the race, especially on the long runs—I felt like we were able to make up time. That was the weak spot for the 48 car and some of the other competitors. As the race progressed, we were there in the mix, whether it was a (pit) stop that bumped us up a spot, or whether it was a nice adjustment by (crew chief) Steve Addington, I felt like we were the car to beat.

“The only weak area that we had was just starting out on fresh tires after a restart, and that bit us at the end.”
Kenseth came home fifth and trails leader Kevin Harvick (11th Sunday) by one point in the Cup standings. Johnson gained one position to third in points and trails Harvick by 14.

Notes: Polesitter Joey Logano lost three laps because of early tire problems and finished 27th. … Despite a pit-road speeding penalty that sent him to the back of the field, Dale Earnhardt Jr. rallied to finish seventh and is eighth in the Cup standings, 153 points behind Harvick. … Mark Martin suffered the most from a 13-car wreck on Lap 341 that scrambled the running order. He finished 35th and dropped nine positions to 16th in the series standings.

(Release by Reid Spencer – Sporting News NASCAR wire service)

Final Results:
  1. Johnson
  2. Stewart
  3. Kurt Busch
  4. Biffle
  5. Kenseth
  6. Edwards
  7. Earnhardt
  8. McMurray
  9. Kyle Busch
  10. Burton
  11. Harvick
  12. Truex
  13. Keselowski
  14. Jeff Gordon
  15. Vickers
  16. Newman
  17. Allmendinger
  18. Menard
  19. Hamlin
  20. Sadler
  21. Labonte
  22. Robby Gordon
  23. Gilliland
  24. Stremme
  25. Kvapil
  26. Montoya
  27. Logano
  28. Conway
  29. Ragan
  30. Mears
  31. Speed
  32. Hornish
  33. Ambrose
  34. Kahne
  35. Martin
  36. Smith
  37. Cook
  38. Reutimann
  39. Almirola
  40. Bowyer
  41. Waltrip
  42. Blaney
  43. Nemechek
Food City 500 Race Recap: Johnson Earns 50th Career Victory and First at BMS Food City 500 Race Recap: Johnson Earns 50th Career Victory and First at BMS Reviewed by Admin on Monday, March 22, 2010 Rating: 5