Johnson Earns 50th Career Victory In Food City 500
Sunday, March 21, 2010
Johnson celebrates in Food City 500 Victory Lane.
Jimmie Johnson claimed the Food City 500 on Sunday, his first at Bristol Motor Speedway, and passed a milestone in the process.
Johnson, who had failed to win at the half-mile oval in 16 career starts, earned the 50th win of his career, a win that ties him with Ned Jarrett and Junior Johnson for 10th on the all time list.
Close racing and a late race caution provided an exciting dash to the finish.
Matt Kenseth, Greg Biffle and Tony Stewart took two tires during the last caution, while several teams opted for four tires to help make their cars more maneuverable. Johnson and Kurt Busch, two of the fastest cars all day, were the first cars off pit road with four new Goodyears.
As the green flag flew, Johnson jumped to the high side of the track and began picking off the cars on two tires. Kurt Busch tried to run down Johnson, but came up short.
"We have worked so hard for this," Johnson said, "but the four tires were the difference. I am so proud of the team and setting a mark and accomplishing it."
"Before I was in NASCAR, we tuned into see a few races, obviously the Daytona 500, but if you want to watch an action-packed race, you watch Bristol. There are parties for this race, fans get excited. When you come here, you look around and want to do well. As a fan you get excited for this track, I wanted to be excited about this track and now I can."
"Every win is special," he continued, "but when a track kicks your butt for so long, it is great when you knock one off."
When asked about his decision to take four tires, Johnson's crew chief Chad Knaus said there really was no other option.
"It was a pretty easy decision for us," Knaus explained. "I felt if we had a good pit stop, we could roll out fourth. We ended up sixth. I figured we would have a good, solid top five. It was a pretty easy decision."
"This one is pretty incredible to be honest. Coming in to the race people were saying, 'man you don't run well at Bristol.' In all honesty, we have run well in the last four races here… and for the first time leaving Atlanta I said, 'I can't wait to get to Bristol.' Jimmie was comfortable in the car and really leading us and telling us the changes to make on the car."
While Stewart was in the top half of the field all day, he felt the move to take two tires was the decision of the race.
"That was the first time we got track position," Stewart said. "We didn't have a choice, I was proud of our guys."
Busch, who led 278 laps, was both thrilled and upset with his third-place finish.
"All in all to come home third and lead a lot of laps in Bristol felt good," said Busch. "I felt like we had the car to beat early on in the race. I felt like as the race progressed… we were the car to beat. I poured my heart and soul in to this race. I feel exhausted, I feel disappointed, but to bring the Miller Lite car home in third is good. You hammer down on these restarts, and close your eyes because it is a crap shoot. "
"I felt like we had the effort, but we just came up short. I was hoping the 99 would get a better restart. I had a plan to go under him in Turn 2, but I was on his high side in one, so the game changed immediately. The plan was to rough up the 99 and get by him and bottle up the top lane. "
Biffle was able to hold on to fourth, while Kenseth ended the race in fifth. Carl Edwards, who also took two tires on the last stop, would up sixth, with Dale Earnhardt Jr., Jamie McMurray, Kyle Busch and Jeff Burton rounding out the Top-10.