Johnson wins rain-delayed race at Talladega

Jimmie Johnson held off the hard-charging car of Tony Stewart to grab his third win of the season. Johnson hung out in the top-15 most of the race waiting until the races closing laps to show the field what Hendrick horsepower was under the No. 48...

Jimmie Johnson held off the hard-charging car of Tony Stewart to grab his third win of the season. Johnson hung out in the top-15 most of the race waiting until the races closing laps to show the field what Hendrick horsepower was under the No. 48 Chevy hood.

The last few laps were wild as numerous drivers swapped the lead back and forth before Johnson finally settled in to take the win. Johnson led just three laps to earn his 21rst career win.

"Everybody just did a great job," said Johnson. "My teammates, Jeff Gordon and Brian Vickers, had a great day today and had great cars. Brian Vickers drove probably the best race I've ever seen today. I was hoping that if I didn't win the race, he could have. Of all the things we ended up racing for the win at the end, and I got this Lowe's team another victory on a restrictor plate track."

Tony Stewart was second, "It wasn't anything real spectacular for our car. We rode around all day like we always do here and when it was time to go, we went. We got shuffled and then spent the last 8-10 laps trying to work our way back to the front.I am pretty happy with what this team was able to accomplish here, I am pretty happy."

Johnson's teammate Brian Vickers was third, earning his best finish so far this season.

"It was a good run for us all day," said Vickers. "We didn't have the fastest pit stops but we were consistent.we tried to run up front most of the was pretty calm up there most of the day where we the end it got a little dicey."

Jeff Burton and Jamie McMurray complete the top five.

"They got such a big run," said McMurray who led at times as the race wound down. "It's easy to get to the lead; it's just hard to keep it. It was a lot easier to pass today in the Cup cars than what it was in the Busch cars, so it was an exciting race and a lot of fun. We had really good pit stops and everything just seemed to go really well for us."

After a day delay due to rain, the Aaron's 499 at Talladega Superspeedway finally got underway with Elliott Sadler leading the charge. Jeff Gordon had just taken the lead when on lap nine a multi-car crash involving Kasey Kahne, Kyle Busch, Sterling Marlin, Martin Truex, Jr., David Stremme, Kevin Harvick, Hermie Sadler, Ken Schrader, Bobby Labonte, Kirk Shelmerdine, Chad Chaffin, Reed Sorenson, Clint Bowyer and Mark Martin brought out the first yellow flag.

"In 1982 it (Talladega) it was just a blast to race here," said Martin. "But in today's day and age it's hard to have fun when you know that the pin is out of the grenade. It's just a matter of time before it goes off."

Joe Nemechek took fuel only and led on the restart, the lead exchanged several times before the second caution fell on lap 39 when Harvick cut a tire. The leaders pitted with Kenseth in the lead on the restart on lap 42.

The lead swapped around with Earnhardt, Jr. in the top spot when green flag pit stops commenced on lap 73. During that round of stops Carl Edwards team left the catch an in the back of the No. 99 Ford prompting NASCAR to show him the black flag. When everything cycled through Kenseth was once again out front.

Sadler was leading on lap 88 when Earnhardt, Jr. made contact with Edwards and Stewart and wound up in the infield grass. When the field restarted on lap 93 Gordon led the way.

Gordon was the leader when the fourth caution waved on lap 110 for debris. The leaders pitted with Gordon in the catbird seat on the restart. Gordon traded the lead with Johnson and Sadler.

Sadler was leading on lap 127 when Marlin wrecked on lap 128 bringing out the fifth caution. The No. 38 Ford led the grid onto pit road for service with Kenseth beating everyone off for the lead on the restart on lap 130.

Sadler and Gordon both passed Kenseth and exchanged the lead several times before the field hung Sadler out on lap 147 allowing Gordon to move to the front. Gordon was successfully blocking Sadler's advances when a debris caution fell on lap153, the events sixth yellow. On that same lap, Earnhardt, Jr. pulled the No .8 Chevy into the garage after his engine expired.

Gordon led on the restart on lap 156 but was shuffled to third when Kurt Busch stuck the No. 2 Dodge out and got a push to the front. Busch continued to lead when Bobby Labonte blew an engine leaving debris on the track bringing out the seventh caution on lap 166.

Most of the lead lap cars stayed out but leader Busch pitted giving the lead up to Jamie McMurray. Stewart found his way to the lead and was out front when on lap 174 Nemechek, Sorenson, Dave Blaney, Denny Hamlin, Travis Kvapil and Kyle Busch got caught in a chain reaction crash for the eighth yellow.

Several drivers traded paint and the lead, but in the end it was Johnson out front when the checkered flag waved to win his second restrictor plate race of the year.

There were eight cautions for 34 laps and 56 lead changes among 22 drivers.

Jimmie Johnson regains the top spot in Nextel Cup point standings. Matt Kenseth (-21), Tony Stewart (-78), Kasey Kahne (-181), Mark Martin (-184), Jeff Gordon (-221), Kevin Harvick (-256), Dale Earnhardt, Jr. (-274), Kyle Busch (-317) and Dale Jarrett (-328) complete the top ten.

Notable items: Bump drafting which was trying to be regulated by NASCAR by instituting soft bumpers for this race ended up being a non-issue; pole- sitter Sadler finished 16th; the rain delay crowd had a lot of people playing hooky from work with the stands at near sell out capacity.

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Dale Earnhardt , Jeff Burton , Jeff Gordon , Dale Jarrett , Bobby Labonte , Tony Stewart , Ken Schrader , Kevin Harvick , Joe Nemechek , Sterling Marlin , Jimmie Johnson , Jamie McMurray , Hermie Sadler , Kirk Shelmerdine , Kasey Kahne , Martin Truex Jr. , Brian Vickers , Carl Edwards , David Stremme , Clint Bowyer , Elliott Sadler , Denny Hamlin , Reed Sorenson , Dave Blaney , Kyle Busch , Mark Martin