Sunday, February 21, 2010

Jimmie Johnson finds his golden horseshoe in Fontana

There’s no doubt Jimmie Johnson and his NASCAR Sprint Cup Series team have been living a charmed life for the past few years.
They have won four straight Cup championships.
They won their fifth Cup race at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana on Sunday.
The way Johnson won the race in Fontana prompted Kevin Harvick to say, “They have a golden horseshoe stuck up their ass. There’s no getting around that.”
Johnson led the most laps of any driver in the race. He also caught a break during pit stops late in the race. He came in for a green flag pit stop on lap 226. Brad Keselowski spun out and brought out a caution flag. Johnson was able to pit and take over the lead on the next lap. He came out of the pits in first on lap 227 and went on to win the race.
“There’s no way around it. We got lucky,” Johnson said. “We certainly got lucky. We were running third or fourth or fifth at the time, so it’s not like we totally backed into this thing. We got a really nice gift with the way things worked out, then it was kind of up to me to hang on to it.”
Harvick did his best to chase Johnson down, but came up a little short. Harvick slapped the wall with three laps to go and had to settle for second place, holding off a surging Jeff Burton at the end of the race.
While Johnson admitted fortune was smiling on him and his team, crew chief Chad Knaus wasn’t so quick to give luck all the credit.
“We don’t believe a heck of a lot in luck,” Knaus said. “But, you know, if it’s out there, we’ll take it.”
Harvick and Burton gave Richard Childress Racing two cars on the podium. Teammate Clint Bowyer finished eighth to give Childress three cars in the top 10. Harvick leaves Auto Club Speedway as the leader in the Sprint Cup standings.
But that was little consolation to losing to Johnson, the crown prince of NASCAR.
Johnson won the 48th Cup race of his career. He is tied with Herb Thomas for  12th place on the all-time NASCAR win list.
Auto Club Speedway was also the site of his first Cup win.
“So weird how things work out,” said Johnson, driver of the No. 48 Chevrolet for Hendrick Motorsports. “Look at the first win, then this win. We come back here with the foundation paint scheme on the car and have won a bunch. There’s just something with this track, being in California for me. I wish I could explain it.”

Photo: Jeff Gordon, driver of the No. 24 DuPont Chevrolet, chats with teammate Jimmie Johnson, driver of the No. 48 Lowe's/Kobalt Tools Chevrolet, at Auto Club Speedway. Johnson won his fifth Cup race at Fontana on Sunday. (Rusty Jarrett/Getty Images for NASCAR)

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