Jimmie Johnson Dominates at Kansas, Grabs Second Win of the Season

Credit: Todd Warshaw/Getty Images for NASCAR

Jimmie Johnson put all of his doubters to rest on Sunday afternoon, winning his second NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race of the season at Kansas Speedway on a green-white-checkered finish and moving himself up to third in the standings, just four points out of the lead. Holding off a charging Kasey Kahne in the waning laps of the 267 strategy-filled event, Johnson has reaffirmed himself as a competitor in this Chase even after many counted him out following a poor start to the 10-race showdown.

“We’ve been knocking on the door all year long and we got beat in some cases and we beat ourselves in others,” said Johnson. “Today we went out there and did a great job, and got this Lowe’s Chevrolet to Victory Lane … We did our part, and we’ll see if we can do it six more times.”

Meanwhile, Kahne’s runner-up finish was his highest finish of the season. The 31-year-old driver, who is moving from Red Bull Racing to Hendrick Motorsports next season, was satisfied with his finish and is hoping to finish the season out on a strong note with his No. 4 team.

“It was a good race,” said Kahne, who failed to make the Chase this season. “We had a good Red Bull car, came in third that first stop and the jack broke, so we had to get a new jack and came out dead last and just kind of battled our way back up through there the rest of the race and made the right adjustments.”

Finishing behind Johnson and Kahne was Penske Racing driver Brad Keselowski, finishing third at the track where he found himself in Victory Lane back in June. On the heels of a win in the Nationwide Series on Saturday, Keselowski has continued on a hot streak that began during the summer months and the Michigan native hasn’t slowed down since.

“Everybody was a little close,” said Keselowski, who moved up two spots to fourth after the third-place run. “We were just closer, but the Miller Lite Dodge was good. Proud of the effort. Kind of an up-and-down day. We got up to be a second- or third-place car mid part of the race, then kind of fell of a little bit, but came back. Third-place day, that’s good, that’s what you’ve got to do. Really, we want to win races like Jimmie (Johnson), but we’re making the best we can out of it. If he stumbles, we’ll be there.”

Rounding out the top four were Roush Fenway Racing teammates Matt Kenseth (4th) and Carl Edwards (5th). A native of neighboring Missouri, Edwards struggled at his home racetrack all day long but rebounded to finish inside the top 5.

“What a fun race that was,” said Edwards. “There was certainly a lot of luck involved there. Man I wanted to win for these home fans at Kansas but this is like getting a win considering how it looked like it could have been. I have to thank my Aflac team. They did a great job today, they never stopped and we were able to work our way back up there. We were just off in the beginning but they worked hard all day and it paid off in the end.”

Edwards moved to the top of the standings, and now holds a one point advantage over second-place Kevin Harvick, who finished sixth.

Not every Chase driver fared as well though. Bringing out the final caution of the day and setting up the field for a green-white-checkered finish was Johnson’s teammate Jeff Gordon, who lost an engine on lap 266. Oil spilled all over the racetrack, and the race went into overtime. Gordon was placed 34th in the running order and dropped one spot in the standings to 10th. He is now 47 points out of the lead, a full-race behind leader Edwards.

Other notable Chase drivers include Kyle Busch (11th), Kurt Busch (13th), Dale Earnhardt Jr. (14th), Tony Stewart (15th), Denny Hamlin (16th), and Ryan Newman (18th).

Kansas native Clint Bowyer finished seventh, just days after announcing his move to Michael Waltrip Racing next season at his home track.

Austin Dillon finished 26th in his NSCS debut.

The race slowed six times for incidents on the racetracks, with three cautions being thrown for debris. Other drivers involved in incidents included Bobby Labonte, Landon Cassill, and Regan Smith.

Next week, the series heads to Charlotte Motor Speedway for the fifth Chase race, a hometown event for most of NASCAR’s teams. The only Saturday night race in the Chase begins at 7:30PM ET on ABC on October 15th.
Jimmie Johnson Dominates at Kansas, Grabs Second Win of the Season Jimmie Johnson Dominates at Kansas, Grabs Second Win of the Season Reviewed by Summer Dreyer on Sunday, October 09, 2011 Rating: 5