Jimmie Johnson wins at Atlanta


Mar 1, 2015; Hampton, GA, USA; NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Jimmie Johnson (48) celebrates winning the Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Liles-USA TODAY Sports

Jimmie Johnson claimed his 71st-career NASCAR Sprint Cup Series win and punched his ticket into the 2015 Chase for the Sprint Cup with a victory Sunday in the Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway.

"“It (win) says a lot of good things,” Johnson said. “I’m just so excited that the guys could understand. We have new guys, so this new team could understand what I was complaining about and things I didn’t like about my race car. We thought we were a top 10 car last night. And I’m sorry to tell you earlier today that we weren’t going to be that good, because we certainly were.”"

Kevin Harvick got by Dale Earnhardt Jr. with six laps to go in the 325-lap race to claim the runner-up spot, his fifth-straight top-two finish, dating back to the last three races of the 2014 season.

Earnhardt finished third, giving Chevrolet of the top-three of the finishing order.

"“The Kelley Blue Book Chevrolet was good,” Earnhardt said. “We qualified well. We haven’t been good here in a long, long time. Several years, so (crew chief) Greg (Ives) and the guys worked really hard. The communication is great and he’s actually a pretty good cheerleader to be honest with you.”"

For Johnson and Harvick, the top-two finishes were the spoils of a race from back to front. Harvick started in the back after blowing an engine in practice Saturday. Johnson started in the back after being one of 13 drivers whose cars didn’t make it through inspection Friday in time to post laps in qualifying.

Harvick led a race-high 1116 laps and dominated the middle portion of the event after taking the lead from pole sitter Joey Logano on lap 87. Logano had led all green flag laps up to that point. In the end, he led a total of 84 laps.

"“We had a decent Shell/Pennzoil Ford, and my guys on pit road were amazing,” Logano said. “Every time I came on pit road, they had some fast stops. I’m glad to see they brought their A-game.”"

Johnson took the lead by getting off pit road ahead of Harvick during a caution with 74 laps to go and remained up front for much of the remainder of the race. At the end of the race, Johnson was credited with 92 laps led.

"“Jimmie ran great today,” Harvick said. “It was a lot of fun racing with him. It was a good race there as we got to the middle part of the race.”"

Matt Kenseth, Clint Bowyer and Brett Moffitt stayed out during a yellow flag with 28 laps to go, putting Johnson back to fourth on the restart. Johnson got to the lead quickly and remained up front the rest of the way.

The yellow flag waved 10 times, with the final caution resulting in a red flag for a multi-car crash involving Tony Stewart, Bowyer, Greg Biffle, Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Regan Smith and Joe Nemechek with 21 laps to go.

The wreck that brought out the final caution was the second multi-car wreck of the race. Denny Hamlin, Jamie McMurray, Jeff Gordon and Ryan Newman were involved in an incident on a restart with just under 70 laps to go.

Logano finished fourth, and Kenseth was fifth. Finishing sixth through 10th were Martin Truex Jr., A.J. Allmendinger, Brett Moffitt, Brad Keselowski and Ryan Newman. Click here to see the full finishing order.

Follow Stock Car Spin on Twitter @SCSblog or like Stock Car Spin on Facebook. Amanda’s also on Twitter @NASCARexaminer and has a fan/like page on Facebook: NASCAR Examiner