Johnson Shakes the Michigan Sprint Cup Monkey with Third Victory of the Season
BROOKYLYN, Mich. - Hendrick Motorsports driver Jimmie Johnson narrowed the list of NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) tracks at which he's yet to earn a race victory to four by nailing down his first series triumph at Michigan International Speedway (MIS).
Johnson led 39 of 200 race laps before crossing the finish line 1.214 seconds ahead of Stewart-Haas Racing driver Kevin Harvick, who placed second for the third time in the past five races this season.
The six-time series champion Johnson, who fell short of previous MIS victories through a combination of mechanical reasons and poor racing luck, has captured victories in three of the past four events this season and now owns five top-five and 10 top-10 finishes through 25 MIS series starts.
He brings Hendrick Motorsports its fifth consecutive victory of the season after leading the closing 10 laps.
"When I heard 10 to go, and I've been there before with the lead. I heard five to go, I've been there before, didn't win, taken the white with the lead and didn't make it back," Harvick said. "I wasn't taking anything for granted on that final trip around, and about 200 yards before the finish line I knew if the car exploded I'd still slide across the finish line and it didn't matter. That's finally when I relaxed and let it go."
The victory added a special element to his Father's Day celebration.
I'm just thrilled on multiple levels. The success that we've had as a team, kind of hitting our stride and getting to victory lane three times in the last four weeks, our teammates and their success, the company, and you look at our engines in our cars and what they're able to do. Excited about all those pieces, plus winning on Father's Day, having my family here, having the boss (Rick Hendrick) here.
Harvick started from the pole position for the third time this season and registered his fifth top-five and seventh top-10 finish after leading a race-best six times for a race-best 63 laps.
The effort helped the two-time winner advance from 12th to ninth in the championship standings.
"The car was fast, just wound up on the wrong side of all the strategy. We finished second, and that's it," he said.
Team Penske's Brad Keselowski took third, Richard Childress Racing's Paul Menard, who earned his second career NASCAR Nationwide Series victory at the track Saturday, crossed the finish line fourth and Hendrick Motorsports' Kasey Kahne raced beneath the checkered flag fifth to complete a stellar rebound from a Lap 7 spin.
Jeff Gordon maintained the series championship lead with a sixth-place finish that marked his 11th top-10 finish of the season through 15 events. The Hendrick Motorsports competitor will start the June 22 NSCS event at Sonoma Raceway holding a 15-point edge on the second-place Johnson.
The series stages its fourth all-time Kentucky Speedway event in 13 days. The event will cap a three-race weekend that opens June 26 with the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series UNOH 225 and continues with the NASCAR Nationwide Series John R. Elliott HERO Campaign 300 presented by Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over.
Tickets, ticket packages, Kroger Fan Zone passes that provide a stage-side view of Thomas Rhett's Quaker State 400 presented by Advance Auto Parts race-day concert, and campsites can be reserved through the respective pages of this website, by calling (859) 578-2300 or visiting the speedway ticket office at 1 Speedway Drive, Sparta, Ky., 41086 just off Interstate 71 Exit 57 and Ky. Hwy. 35 N.
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