It's a season sweep for Johnson at Charlotte

It's a season sweep for Johnson at Charlotte

Jimmie Johnson performed the season sweep of both NEXTEL Cup races at Lowe's Motor Speedway, by scoring the win in the UAW-GM 500. It is Johnson's fifth win of the season, which ties Jeff Gordon and Dale Earnhardt, Jr. for the most wins this ...

Jimmie Johnson performed the season sweep of both NEXTEL Cup races at Lowe's Motor Speedway, by scoring the win in the UAW-GM 500. It is Johnson's fifth win of the season, which ties Jeff Gordon and Dale Earnhardt, Jr. for the most wins this season.

Jimmie Johnson takes the checkered flag.
Photo by Eric Gilbert.
"We need to win races and run well, and if these guys bottle up front then we have a chance," said Johnson of his championship hopes. "Right now, having had two bad races, I just think it is out of our control."

Johnson's victory clinched the manufacturers' championship for Chevrolet for the 26th time, in a much-needed positive result for the No. 48 Chevy team, who has had a disastrous two weeks in his bid for his first championship title.

The two poor results had dropped Johnson to a distant ninth in the "chase" standings. His victory tonight lifts him one spot to eighth, but he remains a longshot at winning the first NEXTEL Cup.

"You have to come to your workplace no matter how tough times may be you have to approach each day with the right frame of mind," said Johnson. "But it has been tough, we've been working hard and we've had bad luck."

Pitstop for Jeff Gordon.
Photo by Eric Gilbert.
Jeff Gordon showed why he has the most championships of any active driver Saturday night at Charlotte. He overcame a series of incidents, and a two- lap deficit, to come back and earn second.

"Unbelievable," said Gordon. "That's why this team is so incredible. I am so proud of these guys.just and awesome day for us, I don't know what happened in the beginning we were just junk. We tightened it up and man it just came alive."

Dale Earnhardt, Jr. was third, charting his 15th top five of the season.

"That feels good," said Earnhardt. "My radio went dead; we had a good night though. We worked hard. We were good in the middle of the race, but when the track got tighter we had to make some adjustments in the end. But we had a great car and I am real happy."

Kasey Kahne and Dale Earnhardt Jr. fight for the lead.
Photo by Eric Gilbert.
Another chase competitor that had to battle back from a series of mishaps, Kurt Busch, grabbed fourth, "Awesome job, this is our best ever finish at Charlotte. It was the adventure of Kurt Busch and his team. I am just glad we managed to avoid disaster."

Joe Nemechek completed the top five.

"This was Ryan Pemberton's day," commented Nemechek. "He made a great call and we got two tires there and track position."

"It's been a really good two weeks."

The action started early as seven cars were tangled in a lap one incident coming out of turn one, chase competitors Busch and Gordon were among the cars involved. On the restart at lap eight, the leaders did not even get through the second corner, before the yellow flew again for Jeff Fuller smacking the wall.

Both Gordon and Busch managed to make their repairs under caution, without catching either of their rides a lap down. They did, however, fall to 34th and 35th on the restart at lap 12.

As the field settled in to start racing, Elliott Sadler quickly showed that the No. 38 was carrying speed. He sailed around Casey Mears to grab second on lap 14, and set his sights on leader Newman.

Rusty Wallace and Scott Wimmer.
Photo by Eric Gilbert.
But the yellow flags just kept coming. On lap 22, Brian Vickers destroyed the No. 25 Chevrolet after hitting the wall head first sustaining heavy damage on his ride. That brought out the third caution of the evening. Vickers car spewed so much debris on the frontstretch that the cars were brought down pit road while the clean up process was underway.

Vickers hit was so hard that he caused damage to the SAFER barrier walls. The cars continued to make caution laps, as officials gathered on the track to access the damage to the steel and foam reinforced walls before the green flag could be displayed.

NASCAR finally red flagged the race at lap 27 for approximately 12 minutes before leaders Newman, Kahne and Sadler led the cars around the track and onto pit road.

Sadler took just two-tires and gas to put him into the lead of the race. On the restart at lap 30, Sadler led but Newman was in the hunt to gain the top spot back. He quickly raced from fourth to second in one circuit, and set his sights on the No. 38 RYR Ford.

By lap 38, Newman had closed on the bumper of Sadler and began to challenge him for the lead. But the No. 12 Dodge began to fall off a bit, allowing the No. 9 Dodge of Kahne around Newman for second place. Kahne was a powerhouse, continuing his charge as just one lap later he easily rocketed past Sadler to take the lead on lap 42.

The two-tire decision of crew chief Todd Parrott came back to haunt Sadler on lap 44, as he began to repel backwards, letting Newman grab second.

Kahne began to lap the field by lap 54, as the grid settled into a long stretch of green flag racing. Gordon caused the fourth caution of the day on lap 77. The No. 24 Chevy of Gordon made contact with the No. 2 of Rusty Wallace spinning into the infield grass in turn four.

Pitstop for Ken Schrader.
Photo by Eric Gilbert.
Kahne continued to lead on the restart at lap 81, followed by Newman. Sadler slipped back to fifth after a round of pit stops, allowing Earnhardt and Matt Kenseth to gain fourth and fifth.

Earnhardt grabbed second on lap 83, as Newman teetered and began to fall backwards through the top five. Meanwhile, Kahne began to check out from the rest of the field at the front of the grid.

Kahne enjoyed a five second lead over second place Earnhardt until lap 119, when the fifth yellow of the event waved when the No. 99 of Carl Edwards washed up the track.

Pit stops put Earnhardt to the front on the restart, but Kahne, within two laps, rocketed past the No. 8 Chevy to regain the lead. Kahne easily pulled out to a 4.9-second advantage over Earnhardt.

Earnhardt once again earned the lead from Kahne after a series of pit stops after a caution at lap 171, but the No. 48 Chevy of Johnson put the peddle to the meddle and gave Earnhardt a run for his money.

Johnson scored the lead at lap 181 and then had to battle door-to-door with Kahne for the lead on lap 186 as Kahne found his ground again. One lap later, Kahne regained first, and led the field on the restart at lap 228 after a caution caused by a blown motor on the No. 29 Chevy of Kevin Harvick that laid oil on the racetrack causing Jeremy Mayfield to slide and back the No.19 Dodge into the wall and collecting Carl Edwards in the process.

The top five cars did not pit as the green flag waved again at lap 231, with Kahne, Martin, Newman, Busch and Michael Waltrip leading the charge.

Busch showed what muster one must have to lead and maintain series standings, as he managed to overcome the adversity of his night and secure second place by lap 233. But he wouldn't stay there for long, at lap 255 Newman worked his way around the No. 97 but remained seven seconds behind leader Kahne.

Things for Kahne went down the drain on lap 267. Kahne hit the wall on the turn 2 exit while leading the race, when he cut down a right front tire.

"Best car of my life," said Kahne who has led 15 races this season without a win. "I thought tonight was our night, I don't know what happened."

That gave the lead to Martin, until lap 278 when Martin let teammate Busch around him for one lap to gain five bonus points.

Busch gave Martin back the lead on 280, but with 33 laps to go, Johnson steered past Martin stealing the lead. Some thirty laps later, Martin was swept up in an incident between Jimmy Spencer and Brendan Gaughan that caused left front fender damage on the No. 6 Ford taking him out of contention for the win.

Busch also scramble to avoid the wreck, dipping down pit road before picking up the field to go from fourth to sixth.

Joe Nemechek leads the field to a restart.
Photo by Eric Gilbert.
The No. 01 of Joe Nemechek was the race leader on the restart at lap 317 after taking two tires to gain track position. Nemechek could not hold off the Hendrick cars of Johnson and Gordon, who were both on four fresh tires on lap 319, but they did not have the chance to put much distance between themselves and the third place car.

Waltrip cut down a right rear tire, sending the caution flag into the air with fourteen to go. Johnson led on the restart at lap 324 and brought the No. 48 to victory lane unchallenged.

Kurt Busch remains your NEXTEL Chase for the Championship point leader. Dale Earnhardt, Jr. (-24), Jeff Gordon (-74), Elliott Sadler (-157), Mark Martin (-186), Tony Stewart (-204), Matt Kenseth (-215), Jimmie Johnson (- 227), Ryan Newman (-271) and Jeremy Mayfield (-349) complete the top five.

Only fourteen cars finished on the lead lap, there were 11 cautions for 53 laps, and 18 lead changes among nine drivers.

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Series NASCAR-CUP