Jimmie Johnson Wins Record Third Straight Pepsi 500
Johnson sets Auto Club Speedway record with fourth win in California
San Bernardino County, Calif. (Oct. 11, 2009) – The record books were rewritten today as Jimmie Johnson (No. 48 Lowe’s/Jimmie Johnson Foundation Chevrolet) won his third straight NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Pepsi 500, making him Auto Club Speedway’s winningest Cup driver with four victories in total. The victory, the 45th of Johnson’s career, also moves Johnson into first place in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup.
“What an awesome car,” Johnson said. “What an awesome day. The caution at the end really had me nervous. I didn’t know what to do on the restarts. The 24 was getting me on some of them, the 42 was racing. I knew once we had three or four laps, I was in good shape, but there at the end, I didn’t really have many laps, so I’m glad I got a good start and got going.”
Entering Sunday’s race, Johnson trailed veteran Mark Martin (No. 5 Kellogg’s/CARQUEST Chevrolet) by 18 points. The victory vaults Johnson 12 points ahead of Martin in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup standings.
Finishing second at Sunday’s Pepsi 500 was Southern California native Jeff Gordon (No. 24 DuPont/Pepsi Chevrolet) followed closely by Colombian Juan Pablo Montoya (No. 42 Target Chevrolet). Martin and Tony Stewart (No. 14 Office Depot/Old Spice Chevrolet) rounded out the top five.
“We were just trying to make it interesting because nobody else seemed to be able to do that for the 48, and we certainly couldn’t on that last run,” Gordon said. “It was a great day for the DuPont/Pepsi Chevrolet. We really fought hard all day and all weekend to get ourselves in that position.”
Joey Logano (No. 20 Home Depot Toyota), Saturday’s Nationwide Series Copart 300 winner, was the highest finishing rookie on Sunday, placing in 14th.
Restarts played a major factor in Sunday’s race as Pole Sitter Denny Hamlin (No. 11 FedEx Ground Toyota) wrecked following a caution on lap 186 and a red flag was issued following an eight-car pileup after a yellow flag on lap 240.
The Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup remains tight with Johnson and Martin holding the top two positions. Montoya (-58 points), Stewart (-84 points) and Gordon (-105 points) are all looking to cut into Johnson’s lead as they currently sit in positions 3-5.
Sunday’s Pepsi 500 was Auto Club Speedway’s Inaugural Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup race.
Multi-platinum recording artist and actor Jesse McCartney performed the National Anthem prior to the Pepsi 500. Kelsey Grammer served as Grand Marshal, giving the most famous command in racing "Gentlemen, start your engines.” Christian Slater took the wheel of the Official NASCAR 2010 Chevy Camaro Pace Car. Audrina Patridge of MTV’s “The Hills” waved the Green Flag to get the Pepsi 500 underway.
To experience even more thrills of NASCAR racing at Auto Club Speedway, mark your calendar for the West Coast Premiere of NASCAR with the Auto Club 500 on Sunday, Feb. 21, 2010. For more information call 800-944-RACE (7223), or visit www.autoclubspeedway.com.