Jimmie Johnson Ties Dale Earnhardt Sr. On All-Time Wins List With Win In Atlanta

by February 28, 2016

HAMPTON, Ga. – Jimmie Johnson won his 76th career NASCAR Sprint Cup Series victory on Sunday in the Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway in overtime.

Johnson led 52 laps throughout the afternoon, and with the win, he’s now seventh on the all-time wins list, tying Dale Earnhardt Sr. The six-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion now has five wins at the speedway.

“It’s such an honor,” Johnson said. “With the chaos at the end and the crash and wondering about overtime and how it worked these days, I kind of lost sight of that. I remembered it on my victory lap coming down, and I had to come by and throw a ‘three’ out the window to pay my respects to the man. There’s a huge void in my career that I never had a chance to race with him, but at least I was able to tie his record.”

This weekend’s race was the first event of the 2016 season where teams ran NASCAR’s latest low-downforce aerodynamic package. Teams got a taste of the package last year in a few select events, but this season, the package will be used in competition throughout the entire year. As a result, the Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 on Sunday saw an incredible, 28 lead changes among eight different drivers.

“You could see at the restarts, you can run three abreast here, three wide, and if we’d had our normal caution deal, I think it would have been more exciting, but still, I love this type of racing because it’s kind of putting it back in the hands of the drivers,” said Hendrick Motorsports team owner, Rick Hendrick. “You know, guys have got to manage their tires. They’ve got to be smart. Crew chief has got to make the right call. I think it’s going to be ‑‑ I think this will be the best racing we’ve seen in a long time.”

The 500-mile race went caution free until lap 211 when debris was spotted on the track. However, when Ryan Newman spun and brought out the second caution on lap 324, the entire outlook changed.

Prior to the caution, Kevin Harvick with fresher tires had been chipping away at Jimmie Johnson’s lead, and now the two drivers, along with the rest of the field would be bunched up for NASCAR’s version of overtime. All of the leaders hit pit road while under the caution, and it was the No. 48 Lowe’s Chevrolet team getting Johnson out ahead of Harvick, Kyle Busch, Martin Truex Jr. and Dale Earnhardt Jr.

“After the pit cycle I think we had a 10‑second lead, maybe an 11‑second lead and we just needed to try and manage that throughout the rest of the race,” said crew chief of the No. 48 Lowe’s Chevrolet, Chad Knaus. “Unfortunately that dang caution came out, but the guys had a great pit stop, we got out there and Jimmie get a heck of a restart and was able to bring it home.

On the restart, Jimmie Johnson with Kyle Busch behind him got a much better start than Harvick on the high line. As the field entered Turn 1, Martin Truex Jr. bumped Harvick just slightly, moving him up the track. Carl Edwards took advantage of the opportunity and split Harvick and Dale Earnhardt Jr. up the middle.

“This is real racing,” Edwards said. “We’re driving hard. You can see the guys out here just digging for everything they’re worth. I’m worn out. That’s a tough race and just a lot of fun. I just can’t thank NASCAR enough and Atlanta – don’t ever pave this place – it’s a perfect race track. I hope the fans enjoyed the show. The thing is, just know that in that car we’re driving as hard as we can.

The final caution of the day came out by the time the leaders had reached Turn 3. Aric Almirola, Ryan Blaney, David Ragan and Landon Cassill got together on the backstretch; however, since the leaders had already passed the Overtime Line, the race was over.

Crossing the finish line just behind Jimmie Johnson was his Hendrick Motorsports teammate, Dale Earnhardt Jr., followed by Kyle Busch, Kurt Busch and Carl Edwards.

“Like I said, it was a good day,” said highest finishing rookie, Chase Elliott. “I was happy we could move forward. Most of all, happy with how we finished versus last week. I made a lot of dumb mistakes these past two weeks, and I was just happy that we could finish.”

Rounding out the top-10 was Kevin Harvick, Martin Truex Jr., Chase Elliott, Brad Keselowski and Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

Kyle Busch currently leads Martin Truex Jr. by only three points in the championship standings.

Up next on the schedule for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series is the Kobalt 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on Sunday, March 6. Coverage for the event will broadcast live at 3:30 p.m. ET on FOX and the Performance Racing Network (PRN).

Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 Results:

1.) #48 Jimmie Johnson

2.) #88 Dale Earnhardt Jr.

3.) #18 Kyle Busch

4.) #41 Kurt Busch

5.) #19 Carl Edwards

6.) #4 Kevin Harvick

7.) #78 Martin Truex Jr.

8.) #24 Chase Elliott

9.) #2 Brad Keselowski

10.) #17 Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

11.) #3 Austin Dillon

12.) #22 Joey Logano

13.) #16 Greg Biffle

14.) #13 Casey Mears

15.) #43 Aric Almirola

16.) #11 Denny Hamlin

17.) #14 Ty Dillon

18.) #27 Paul Menard

19.) #20 Matt Kenseth

20.) #10 Danica Patrick

21.) #1 Jamie McMurray

22.) #6 Trevor Bayne

23.) #5 Kasey Kahne

24.) #32 Ryan Newman

25.) #21 Ryan Blaney

26.) #42 Kyle Larson

27.) #47 AJ Allmendinger

28.) #34 Chris Buescher

29.) #83 Matt DiBenedetto

30.) #46 Michael Annett

31.) #44 Brian Scott

32.) #23 David Ragan

33.) #95 Michael McDowell

34.) #7 Regan Smith

35.) #15 Clint Bowyer

36.) #38 Landon Cassill

37.) #98 Cole Whitt

38.) #32 Jeffrey Earnhardt

39.) #30 Josh Wise