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Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Johnson wins Brickyard for fourth time

Monday, July 30, 2012

NASCAR driver Jimmie Johnson celebrates after winning his fourth Brickyard 400 Sunday. He tied teammate Jeff Gordon with the most wins at the Brickyard 400. The drivers now look forward to Pocono next weekend. Photo by TIM TRIGG
INDIANAPOLIS -- Following a dominating effort that saw him lead 99 of 160 laps at the 2012 Brickyard 400, Jimmie Johnson tied teammate Jeff Gordon with his fourth win on the famed oval at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Sunday.

"Man, you just hope to race here. To come here and win is a huge honor. And to win four -- four wins. I'm at a loss for words," Johnson said.

Johnson has been a huge fan of the speedway and with his win Sunday he was able to equal his childhood hero Rick Mears with four victories at IMS.

"It was nice," Johnson said of equalling Mears' mark. "It's wild. And (Jeff) Gordon, as well. It's really wild for me to get my start in a Cup car from him. I just hoped to come here and race.

"I can remember watching the '500' on the couch with my grandfather and I remember him telling me he came to Indy. It's nice to create my own family memories here," the driver added.

Johnson took off early, got out front and had few challengers on the day. The driver began the day fourth in points and remained in that position following his win.

Kyle Busch and Greg Biffle finished second and third, respectively. Both drivers were able put together solid laps and stay within sight of Johnson, but Johnson was just too dominant for anyone on Sunday. Busch praised his team's effort following the race, but admitted Johnson was driving a race all his own.

"I can't say enough about the effort the guys put in for our best finish here and our best run," Busch said. "If it wasn't for the 48, we were probably in our zip code on the rest of the field, but Jimmie Johnson was in his own country today, so we just couldn't keep up with him."

Fan favorite Dale Earnhardt Jr. finished a solid fourth and looked early to get a drive that would be able to challenge for the lead. Earnhardt started the race in 20th place and quickly moved his way through traffic to run in the top 10 throughout the race.

Earnhardt said his car was as good as he thought it would be and he finished where he expected. On restarts throughout the day, the inside line was the place to be and according to Earnhardt it benefited him well at the end.

"We just had some good fortune there to start on the inside on those last few restarts. We had about a fourth-to eighth-place car. Just seemed to get some good fortune on how those restarts lined up for us at the end," Earnhardt said.

With his top five finish, Earnhardt moves into sole possession of first place in the points standings, leading Matt Kenseth by 14.

"You run in the top five and top 10 enough you'll get enough points," Earnhardt said. "But we'd like to win some more races. I know our fans would like us to win more races too. Working real hard and real happy with our result today."

Earnhardt said he has a quick car, but couldn't make a move down the stretch.

"The car was fast. I was trying to pass Biffle, but just sitting behind him getting aero-tight and couldn't get no closer than I was," he said.

Four-time winner Gordon scored a nice top five finish, placing fifth. Gordon sat in second place for long stretches Sunday, but he simplified things after the race as to the reason he couldn't make a push at the end.

"Track position," Gordon said. "We had a car that could compete for the win. I think we were probably one of the only ones who could compete with the No. 48. Congratulations to Jimmie and (crew chief) Chad (Knaus) and the Lowe's team and (team owner) Rick Hendrick. They're that good, you know, and they deserve to be in victory lane today. They were the best team and they had a fast race car."

Office Depot driver and Indiana native Tony Stewart made a big leap during the race, improving 18 positions to finish 10th. Stewart fought his ride throughout the race. Despite his 10th place finish, Stewart dropped from seventh to eighth in the point standings and will look to rebound when the drivers make their way to Pocono next weekend.

"We just didn't start the weekend off good enough," Stewart said. "I will say that I'm really proud of Steve Addington, Greg Zipadelli and all of our engineers and everybody who worked hard last night to make this car what it was today.

"We've just go to be better off the truck," he added.

Putnam County was represented on the track as well Sunday. David Ragan's No. 28, sponsored by Cloverdale-based Scorpion Truck Bed Liners, finished 28th in the race.

Adding to an already disappointing 2012 season, Carl Edwards started the race in second place, but fell back on lap 13 and was never able to recover and challenge the leaders of the race. Edwards finished 29th, four laps down.

Everyone admires the colorful paint schemes NASCAR teams employ to make their cars unique, but one driver made a big statement and it was done in simple black and white.

Driver Regan Smith honored the victims of the Aurora movie theater shootings by placing on his car the names of each of the 12 people who lost their lives. His car's feature sponsor Furniture Row is just seven miles from the Century 16 theater where the shootings happened. In addition to the names, the car also bore the inscription "For Those Lost, Those Injured And Countless Acts of Bravery 7/20/12."

The drivers now set their sights on Pocono Raceway. Earnhardt leads the way in points, but is still looking to add another elusive win to his resumé.

Johnson is a two-time winner at Pocono and with five races left before the Chase begins, the No. 48 team looks ready to make some noise. Note, each time Johnson has won the Brickyard 400 he's gone on to win the Sprint Cup Championship.

"From a performance standpoint, we're as strong as we've ever been," Johnson said. "We've had issues late in the race that's cost us track position for a variety of reasons and that's the part we need to make sure is button up before the Chase starts and carry that through the Chase.

"These are amazing race cars. We made a lot of progress through the off-season and getting started this year. I feel really good about the Chase. I'm ready for it to start," Johnson said.

At Indianapolis Motor Speedway

Brickyard 400

1. Johnson 160 laps

2. Ky. Busch 160

3. Biffle 160

4. Earnhardt Jr. 160

5. Gordon 160

6. Hamlin 160

7. Newman 160

8. Truex Jr. 160

9. Keselowski 160

10. Stewart 160

11. Martin 160

12. Kahne 160

13. Harvick 160

14. Menard 160

15. Bowyer 160

16. Hornish Jr.

17. Bayne 160

18. Almirola 160

19. Smith 160

20. Ambrose 160

21. Montoya 160

22. McMurray 160

23. Blaney 160

24. Stremme 160

25. Cassill 160

26. Labonte 160

27. Gilliland 160

28. Ragan 160

29. Edwards 156

30. Schrader 155

31. Leicht 154

32. Burton 151

33. Logano 144

34. Mears 137

35. Kenseth 132

36. Ku. Busch 126

37. Kvapil 40

38. Speed 23

39. Yeley 20

40. Wise 19

41. Riggs 14

42. Skinner 11

43. Bliss 5

Average Speed: 137.680

Caution Laps: 5 for 25 laps

Lead Changes: 17 among 9 drivers