There are now only four tracks on the Sprint Cup Series schedule where Jimmie Johnson hasn't won at.
Johnson crossed Michigan off his list Sunday afternoon, taking the lead off the race's final restart and inheriting it after the rest of the field all came down pit road.
Because of the clean air from the lead, Johnson was able to take four tires on his final stop. While tires were secondary to track position throughout Sunday's race, Johnson was able to have the benefit of both. While Jeff Gordon and Paul Menard left pit road not too far behind Johnson, they both took two tires to do it. When they were all back on the track at full speed, Johnson pulled away.
In August 2012 at Michigan, Johnson had a great chance to win while battling with Greg Biffle. But Johnson blew an engine on lap 195 and finished 27th. After starting third in the August race last year, Johnson also lost an engine and finished 40th. There were no worries about an engine on Sunday and now the only tracks Johnson hasn't notched a victory at are Chicago, Homestead, Kentucky and Watkins Glen.
After knocking off Michigan, Johnson's now the sole leader in wins in the Sprint Cup Series with three, just four weeks after many people were wondering when he would win again. (If you were one of those people, you probably feel pretty foolish now.) Add those three wins with Jeff Gordon's win at Kansas and Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s win at Pocono last Sunday and Hendrick Motorsports has won the last five points races.
It's the third time the team has had a five-race winning streak. In 2007, Hendrick won six straight races, all in the Chase for the Sprint Cup. Gordon won at Talladega and Charlotte while Johnson won at Martinsville, Atlanta, Texas and Phoenix. (Earlier that year was a five-race streak too. Gordon won three races while Johnson and Casey Mears each won once.)
The only driver who had a car to compete with Johnson late in the race at Michigan was powered by a Hendrick engine. Kevin Harvick took four tires on his final pit stop too and he powered around Brad Keselowski for second with under 10 laps to go. But Harvick, who was forced to come to pit road for his final pit stop because of a cut tire, was too far behind Johnson to have a chance for the win. Harvick, the polesitter, led 63 laps. Johnson led 39.
While the end of the race was a sterotypical Michigan finish (the final 57 laps were run under green), the beginning of the race was a stop-and-start affair. Two cautions, one for Brian Vickers' spin and another for a spin by Kyle Larson and Kasey Kahne that also involved Martin Truex Jr., came before the field could even complete a full lap of green flag competition.
Keselowski finished third while Paul Menard, Saturday's winner of the Nationwide Series race, was fourth and Kahne rebounded to finish fifth.
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- Motor Racing
- Sports & Recreation
- Jimmie Johnson
- Jeff Gordon
- Paul Menard