Jimmie Five: Johnson Wins the Hollywood Casino 400 at Kansas Speedway
If there were any doubts about Jimmie Johnson and his No. 48 Lowe's Chevrolet team heading into Kansas Speedway, they've been cast aside after a dominating performance on Sunday afternoon.
Looking like a man on a mission, the five-time reigning Cup champion led 197 of 270 laps to win the Hollywood Casino 400, holding off a hard-charging Kasey Kahne to the stripe.
It didn't come down to a fuel mileage battle for the Chasers, but instead, it came down to a green-white-checkered that stemmed from Jeff Gordon's motor expiring in the final laps.
A costly mechanical failure for the No. 24 Chevy team set up the ultimate restart of the day, where Johnson's Lowe's machine had enough power to hold off Kahne at the start/finish line.
Johnson knew that it was just a matter of time until he and his No. 48 crew returned to Victory Lane after a five-and-a-half month long dryspell.
"The competitor in all of us, we've known we've been close," Johnson said per AP Sports Writer Dave Skretta's article and republished by Yahoo! Sports. "I know what my team is capable of and we showed today what we're capable of when we're all performing at the top of our game."
Right now, it appears as if nobody's capable of excelling at the same level as Johnson and crew chief Chad Knaus, proving why they've won five consecutive title in their convincing victory at Kansas.
Placing third was Brad Keselowski, who won the STP 400 at Kansas back in June in his No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge. While his finish wasn't exactly as sterling as his triumph back in the spring event, a third-place result certainly kept him in the title hunt.
"It all comes back to having a good team," Keselowski said. "Good teams have good cars, they’re the best at the end, the fastest at the end, they have good pit strategy and they’re strong through adversity, and I just have a really good team."
Considering how much adversities they've had to overcome from earlier in the season, it's been quite the Cinderella season for Keselowski and his team led by crew chief Paul Wolfe.
Keselowski's team now finds themselves sitting fourth in the points standings, just 11 markers behind points leader Carl Edwards, who came home in fifth position.
Matt Kenseth continued his string of solid, quiet Chase performances with a fourth-place effort, while Kevin Harvick, Clint Bowyer, Greg Biffle, Marcos Ambrose, and Mark Martin rounded out the top-10 finishers.
Harvick entered the race sharing the points lead with Carl Edwards but now trails the Roush-Fenway Racing driver by just a single marker heading into next Saturday night's Bank of America 500 (Live on ESPN on ABC at 7:30 PM ET) at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
Meanwhile, race pole sitter Greg Biffle backed up his solid qualifying effort with a much needed top-10 effort, building on some momentum before next season.
Perhaps the most disappointed driver leaving Kansas Speedway was Jeff Gordon, who had a top-five car all afternoon long before his motor expired just within the finish of the 400-miler.
Finishing 34th, the two-time Kansas winner will need help from his other Chasers if he's looking to make one lastcharge for this year's title.
As for the rest of the Chasers, Kyle Busch came home in 11th, while Kurt Busch, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Tony Stewart, and Denny Hamlin finished 13th through 16th followed by Ryan Newman in 18th.
Those drivers and teams will be looking to make a statement at Charlotte Motor Speedway next weekend, which has traditionally been a strong track for Jimmie Johnson.
Undoubtedly, he will be the odds-on favorite heading into this coming weekend, although there's still six more races left before the season finale next month at Homestead-Miami.
Simply put, when it's crunch time and a driver and team put it together when it really matters, Jimmie Johnson and the No. 48 Lowe's Chevy crew just get the job done with one goal: winning championships.
Here's a look at the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Championship standings, with drivers' teams, manufacturers, and wins (if any) listed in the parentheses below:
- Carl Edwards (Roush-Fenway/Ford/1 win)
- Kevin Harvick (Childress/Chevy/4 wins)
- Jimmie Johnson (Hendrick/Chevy/2 wins)
- Brad Keselowski (Penske/Dodge/3 wins)
- Matt Kenseth (Roush-Fenway/Ford/2 wins)
- Kurt Busch (Penske/Dodge/2 wins)
- Tony Stewart (Stewart-Haas/Chevy/2 wins)
- Kyle Busch (Gibbs/Toyota/4 wins)
- Dale Earnhardt Jr. (Hendrick/Chevy)
- Jeff Gordon (Hendrick/Chevy/3 wins)
- Ryan Newman (Stewart-Haas/Chevy/1 win)
- Denny Hamlin (Gibbs/Toyota/1 win)