Johnson Doubles Down In Vegas
February 28, 2010 | 6:15 P.M. EST
A call for four tires on the day's final pit stop proved to be the winning move as Johnson powered around teammate Jeff Gordon in the closing laps to take back-to-back wins after his Auto Club Speedway victory of a week ago.
Johnson's win put him in sole possession of 12th on the all-time win list, one behind Ned Jarrett and Junior Johnson. After winning last weekend at Auto Club, today's win also marked the seventh time in Johnson's career that he's won back-to-back races.
Before he was able to make his pass for the lead and win, Johnson and Gordon put on a furious battle for the top spot that had the large crowd standing for nearly twenty laps.
"Man, that was one heck of a race all afternoon long," Johnson said. "Jeff and I were racing each other so hard. Jeff and I were racing so hard at the end of the day. I wasn't sure if I was going to get away from him once I got by him and I did and I was able to get out and away from him. Everything worked well. Great day in the pits. Great day on the track."
Kevin Harvick also got around Gordon and scored a second-place finish to go along with his Saturday Nationwide Series win at Las Vegas.
"We just needed a complete run," said Harvick, who started his weekend on Friday with a trip into the wall. "All-in-all, to come from where we started and I got us behind on Friday, got us back in the field on qualifying and we were able to rebound from that.
"Those are things we couldn't do over the past couple of years. So, just proud of all my guys and looking forward to keep going to Atlanta."
Gordon, who wound up leading the most laps with 219, finished third after crew chief Steve Letarte opted for two tires on the last stop.
“If we won the race, we’d look like geniuses, Steve would have. The fact that we lost the race, now Chad looks like a genius,” Gordon said. “I talked to Steve briefly after the race. He’s pretty upset obviously. I think he just felt like more people were gonna take two tires. Shoot, we were thinking for a split second to stay out.
“I felt like we needed to come in and get some tires, but I felt like two tires was the right call, too. We just needed (Johnson) to take two. They did the opposite of us. That won the race for them.”
Mark Martin finished fourth to give Hendrick Motorsports three drivers in the top five.
Matt Kenseth rounded out the top five for his second consecutive top 10 with new crew chief Todd Parrott.
Joey Logano finished sixth for his second top 10 of the season with Tony Stewart, Clint Bowyer, Kasey Kahne and Greg Biffle completing the first ten finishers.
It was a rough day for several pre-race contenders including the Earnhardt-Ganassi Racing duo of Juan Pablo Montoya and Jamie McMurray, who tangled with each other in an incident that also swept up pole sitter Kurt Busch
The teammates made contact in Turn 4 and despite McMurray taking the blame, Montoya was none too pleased.
“He ran us into the fence in Turn 2 and just flat wrecked us in Turn 3,” Montoya said. “He’s not doing us any favors.”
The Sprint Cup Series now heads to Atlanta Motor Speedway for next Sunday's Kobalt Tools 500.