|Credit: Charlotte Bray/Skirts and Scuffs|
In a season that has, thus far, been filled with one bizarre event after another, the familiar sight of the No. 48 in Victory Lane at Atlanta brought a sense of order in the midst of the chaos. Though NASCAR Nation may not admit it, they're conditioned to believe that Jimmie Johnson should win races early and often, Johnson obliged by scoring his 71st victory in 473 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races in the 56th Annual Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500
Despite cold, wet weather, Johnson notched career win number four at Atlanta Motor Speedway, and in the process, the six-time champion scored an early berth in the Chase for the Sprint Cup.
|Credit: Charlotte Bray/Skirts and Scuffs|
Johnson started in the rear of the field after having not gotten through tech inspection in time to make a qualifying lap. That didn’t seem to bother him, as he led six times for 92 laps. Johnson took the lead for the final time on Lap 305. A six-car wreck brought out a caution and then a nine-minute red flag on Lap 306, but Johnson outran the No. 4 of Kevin Harvick and the No. 88 of Dale Earnhardt Jr.
"We felt like we were okay in the test session, the practice sessions through Friday and Saturday," explained Johnson. "We didn't think we had a dominant car or really kind of a car to race for the win. Seemed that other guys showed some speed. But through our process and through getting to know the new folks on our team, the engineers, they understood what I was asking for, found a way to give it to me."
Harvick’s second-place finish is his second in 2015, and his fifth top-two finish in the last five points-paying races. Although he earned the outside pole, Harvick brought the freaky-fast Jimmy John’s Chevy from the rear of the field after the No. 4 blew an engine in final practice.
“Yeah, we had a solid day,” said Harvick. “Everybody on our team did a great job. Jimmie really got rolling there halfway through the race. We had a heck of a race, had a lot of fun out there racing with him, trading the lead back and forth several times.”
Harvick also led six times, and led the most overall laps with 116.
“All in all it was a good, solid day,” Harvick stated. “ I know everybody wants to win. We just have to keep doing what we're doing. You put yourself in that position, you'll be able to win races.”
With the final restart, Dale Earnhardt Jr.
“We ran over something on the racetrack, knocked the grille out of it. It hurt the aerodynamics,” said Earnhardt. “Think we might have been able to race Kevin a little bit. It was pretty much over with when that happened.
Earnhardt finished third for the second time in
“Happy with the car. Happy with Greg. Greg is great at communicating. Our communication is natural, feels good. He's a pretty decent cheerleader, too, for myself, the team. Man, he's going to be something else for a while around that garage. I'm glad to be able to work with him there.”
Daytona 500 winner and
Matt Kenseth managed to get up front for ten laps total, but couldn't manage to hold the lead.
Credit Charlotte Bray/Skirts and Scuffs
In his final race at Atlanta Motor Speedway, Jeff Gordon got swept up in a crash on Lap 257. Not only did he finish in 40th place, he also once again hit a place on the track not covered by SAFER Barrier.
Martin Truex, Jr.
Allmendinger showed speed all weekend, starting from 11th, and Moffitt demonstrated why Michael Waltrip Racing entrusted him with the No. 55
Logano retains the points lead by a single point. Behind him are Johnson, who is one point ahead of Harvick, four points in front of Earnhardt, and 13 in front of Truex.
Las Vegas Motor Speedway hosts the next Sprint Cup event on March 8.
Complete unofficial finishing order:
|3||9||88||Dale Earnhardt, Jr.||1||42|
|6||14||78||Martin Truex, Jr.||0||38|
|21||8||9||Sam Hornish, Jr.||0||23|
|36||20||17||Ricky Stenhouse, Jr.||0||8|
|42||34||30||Ron Hornaday, Jr.||0||2|
She's been a part of the Skirts and Scuffs team since May 2011, beginning as a contributor, then became a media rep, photographer, and associate editor covering both NASCAR and the Verizon IndyCar Series.
LJ's other interests include photography, writing, reading, natural health, history, and genealogy. She works for Family Tree DNA, a company that performs DNA testing for genealogical purposes