Scores & Stats
NASCAR Sprint Cup Series

Johnson dominant in California victory



Fontana, CA (Sports Network) - Jimmie Johnson won Sunday night's Pepsi 500 with a dominating performance at the Auto Club Speedway. The No.48 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet driver and two-time defending Sprint Cup Series champion led 228 of 250 laps.

The victory was Johnson's third of the season and the 36th of his Sprint Cup career.

"It's amazing," Johnson said. "To have the fan base that I do here and the fans that support us, it means the world to me here in my home state. This was an awesome race."

Johnson knew his car was so good throughout the race that he quipped about it afterwards.

"The longest it took me to do anything tonight was to get out of the car, so I apologize for that," Johnson said.

Johnson, who tied his Hendrick Motorsports teammate Jeff Gordon for the most victories at California with three, became the first driver to win a Cup race there from the pole position. He won the fall race at California one year ago.

A.J. Allmendinger grabbed the from Johnson on the first lap, but Johnson came roaring back on the following lap to reclaim the top spot. Debris from Jamie McMurray's blown right front tire put the race under caution for the first time on the fourth lap.

A caution light fell off the wall in turn one and landed on the track on Lap 19, resulting in the second caution. Johnson was the quickest out of the pits, followed by Kasey Kahne and Allmendinger during the first round of stops. Allmendinger passed Kahne and moved back into the second spot on Lap 28.

Kurt Busch cut a tire and spun for the third caution on Lap 43. Johnson beat Greg Biffle, Allmendinger and Vickers out of the pits and led the field for the restart three laps later.

Johnson continued to win the race off pit road when he beat Biffle and Denny Hamlin during a caution on Lap 68. Johnson led the field for the restart on Lap 73, but Biffle passed Johnson on the following lap. Biffle could not hold on to the lead for long as Johnson reclaimed the top spot the next circuit.

A round of green-flag pit stops began on Lap 110 as Robby Gordon and McMurray were the first to their make stops. Johnson held a 8.7-second lead before he pitted on Lap 112. Biffle ran out front before he made his stop the following lap. After the cycle of stops completed on Lap 115, Johnson was back in command.

A caution for debris on Lap 161 set up another round of pit stops with Johnson falling back to sixth in the field after getting caught in traffic on his way out. Biffle took on two tires only and captured the lead. But four tires would prove to be the right move for Johnson as quickly moved to the front and passed Biffle for the lead on Lap 168.

Johnson lost three spots on his next pit stop on Lap 182 when his jackman got tangled with the airhose while changing a tire. David Reutimann was the quickest off pit road after a two-tire change. Reutimann led the field to the green on Lap 186, but Johnson's dominance continued as he moved in front again three laps later. He held a three-second lead over Biffle by the 200-lap mark.

Biffle beat Johnson out of the pits on the last round of stops during a caution. But Johnson quickly passed Biffle for the lead one lap after the restart.

Johnson led the final 28 laps and crossed the finish line 2.076 seconds ahead of Biffle.

"I feel bad, I let my pit crew down," Biffle said. "We're getting that close. If it's not (Kyle Busch) beating our pants, it's Johnson."

Hamlin, Kevin Harvick and Matt Kenseth completed the top-five.

Johnson, Dale Earnhardt, Jr. and Jeff Burton have now clinched a spot in the "Chase for the Sprint Cup," which begins September 14th at New Hampshire. Earnhardt, Jr. finished 11th, while Burton came in 17th.

Clint Bowyer held on to the coveted 12th spot in the championship standings after his 10th-place run. Bowyer holds just a slim 17-point advantage over 13th-place David Ragan, who finished 13th, as the final race before the "Chase" is set for Saturday, September 6th, at the Richmond International Raceway.

09/01 01:41:27 ET

Powered by The Sports Network.