Las Vegas: Johnson beats the odds for Vegas win

Las Vegas: Johnson beats the odds for Vegas win

Jimmie Johnson brought an end to the Roush dynasty at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on Sunday by wheeling the No. 48 Hendrick Chevy into victory lane. It is Johnson's third consecutive top-five result and the 15th win of his career. Jimmie ...

Jimmie Johnson brought an end to the Roush dynasty at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on Sunday by wheeling the No. 48 Hendrick Chevy into victory lane. It is Johnson's third consecutive top-five result and the 15th win of his career.

Jimmie Johnson's burn out.
Photo by Michael C. Johnson.
"I am so happy and so proud of this race team," said Johnson. "The guys gave me a great car."

Johnson took the lead for the first time on lap 147 and proved that his Chevy was the car to beat. He lost the lead just once when Ryan Newman came off pit road first on lap 176.

But, it only took a handful of laps for Johnson to scoot back to the front. From there, Johnson led seamlessly and unchallenged to the checkered flag. Johnson's win for Hendrick Motorsports breaks the stranglehold Roush Racing has held on the 1.5-mile speedway.

"It was a great performance for Hendrick Motorsports," said Johnson. "I think we were all struggling there at the beginning.but we made a lot of adjustments and kept working on the car. I was very good on the short run but as it went in I got looser and looser. Chad (Knaus, crew chief) found something and after that we were railing."

Hometown boy Kyle Busch handed in a surprising second place result. His first top-five result of his Cup series career. The rookie's finish gave Hendrick a one-two finish.

Kyle Busch.
Photo by Michael C. Johnson.
"This feels awesome," commented Kyle Busch of beating his brother. "I wish it was 1-2, but I don't want to wish any bad luck on the 48. I was just trying to chase him down. That was all we had."

Kyle's big brother and reigning Cup series champ Kurt Busch earned . third. In three races this year, Busch has three top-three results keeping him in the running for a back-to-back championship.

"Our car ran great," said Kurt Busch. "We just didn't have track position because of one bad pit stop. But, it was an awesome day for our Sharpie Ford. This was the first time I really felt like we were in contention at Vegas.

"I understand you have to run for a championship and when I come to Vegas it feels like it's the Daytona 500," added the top finishing Roush driver.

Jeff Gordon was fourth, but was miffed with Newman who he felt cost him a chance to win. Newman and Gordon made contact while battling for position late in the race. The contact did not cause significant damage to either car.

"It's a great effort for the DuPont Chevrolet team," expressed Gordon. "Overall effort for Hendrick Motorsports is a nice bounce back from Fontana. I don't know. I had a little trouble there with Ryan Newman, so I have to find out what that's about.

"But, it cost us a shot at getting the win. I don't know if we could have gotten up there with Jimmie or not but it certainly took all of our chances away."

Newman finished 10th and was clearly not amused with Gordon.

"He hit me hard enough to jack the rear end up off the ground and spin the rear tires," barked Newman. "Obviously, he had more horsepower than he could handle."

When asked if it might have been a new version of the 'bump draft' Newman scowled, "No, I think that was an 'ego draft'. I think that's what you call that."

Kevin Harvick.
Photo by Michael C. Johnson.
Kevin Harvick bounced back from losing his qualifying position to complete the top five. Harvick was nailed for cheating after qualifying fourth. His time was disallowed and had to start the race from the 42nd spot.

"We had the car to beat today," said Harvick. "But it wasn't to be. I'm proud of all the guys on this GM Goodwrench Chevy. We were put to the back twice and still got a top five."

It was a bad day for many of last year's chase contenders. Dale Earnhardt, Jr. got into the back of Brian Vickers on lap 12 which sparked a multi-car crash that also involved Ricky Rudd and Bobby Labonte.

"I got into the back of Brian (Vickers) going into Turn 1 and turned him around and got out of the race," explained Earnhardt. "It's a big mistake on my part. It got to the corner too hard and it's really not a fault of him at all. It's my fault and it's a shame and I apologized to him and everyone at Hendrick Motorsports."

Earnhardt finished 42nd and drops to 27th in series rankings. "Hopefully next week will be a lot better week."

Tony Stewart marched from the back of the pack by lap 40 but on lap 65, Stewart and Elliott Sadler made contact and a melee broke out again. Spinning cars in turn four included Carl Edwards, Matt Kenseth, Jeff Gordon and Jeff Burton. Most of the cars did not receive significant damage.

Stewart salvaged a 10th place result, Sadler's car was junk all day and the team could not recover. He finished 29th and drops out of the top ten in points to 13th overall.

The win propels Johnson into the lead in Cup series points. Kurt Busch (- 15), Greg Biffle (-97), Jeff Gordon (-107), Carl Edwards (-117), Tony Stewart (-123), Rusty Wallace (-130), Kevin Harvick (-131), Ryan Newman (-136) and Mark Martin (-151) complete the top ten.

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Jeff Burton , Jeff Gordon , Matt Kenseth , Tony Stewart , Rusty Wallace , Kevin Harvick , Greg Biffle , Kurt Busch , Ryan Newman , Jimmie Johnson , Brian Vickers , Carl Edwards , Elliott Sadler , Kyle Busch , Mark Martin
Teams Hendrick Motorsports