Perfect Homecoming For Johnson

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Nothing like a little home cooking to get Jimmie Johnson back to victory lane.

After spending the week visiting his old high school, friends and hosting a charity golf outing, Johnson went out and won his 28th career NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series race with a victory in the Sharp AQUOS 500 at California Speedway.

The California native enjoyed his second career Cup win at his home track and took over the bonus points lead in the "Chase for the NEXTEL Cup" with his fifth victory of 2007.

“It has been a few months since we won,” said Johnson. “It’s good to be back.”

The end of the dry spell couldn't have come at a better time for Johnson as the "Chase" is on the horizon.

“The season is all about a championship,” Johnson said. “It’s time for the pressure to pick up and the hard work to start. My guys are ready for it. We're hitting our stride when we need to.”

Johnson will try for a sweep at Richmond next week and a sixth victory, which would assure him of the top "Chase" spot.

"We've had a lean summer and this win is certainly going to help us get that last bit of confidence back," Johnson said.

"We're going to a great track and all the races in the "Chase" are all really good tracks for us, so we're hitting our stride right where we need to and hopefully we can become a champion again."

Carl Edwards followed his win at Bristol Motor Speedway a week ago with a runner-up finish.

Running second is terrible,” Edwards said. “I just hope we run this well in the Chase.”

Kyle Busch, Jeff Burton and Dale Earnhardt, Jr. rounded out the top five.

It was another solid finish for Earnhardt, Jr, but his chances of making the playoffs dimmed even further. Although he did gain some ground, he trails new 12th place man in the standings Kevin Harvick by 128 points with one race left to qualify.

“It doesn’t look like we’re going to make it, but we’re not going to quit trying to,” Earnhardt Jr. said.

"It was so hot out there you kind of get aggravated," he said after a tiring night racing in sweltering heat. "I'm tired, real tired."

Martin Truex, Jr., Matt Kenseth, Brian Vickers, polesitter Kurt Busch and defending race winner Kasey Kahne completed the first ten finishers.

Jeff Gordon was credited with a 22nd place finish after being involved in an accident on lap 180. Despite not finishing better than 19th in his last three races, Gordon still has a 317-point lead in the series standings over Tony Stewart

The race saw a record-tying 11 cautions for 53 laps with one period for a fiery crash involving Michael Waltrip, who hit the wall and had flames pouring from his No. 55 NAPA Toyota. Waltrip escaped uninjured.

Veteran Ricky Rudd, making his 900th career NEXTEL Cup start, was involved in a multi-car accident on lap 179. Rudd injured his wrist in the melee and was taken to a local hospital for additional treatment.

The NEXTEL Cup Series now heads to Richmond International Raceway for next Saturday night's Chevy Rock 'n Roll 400.

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