Hampton, GA (SportsNetwork.com) – Jimmie Johnson held off his Hendrick
Motorsports teammate, Dale Earnhardt Jr., following a late-race restart and
then cruised to victory in Sunday’s Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 at Atlanta
Johnson, the six-time Sprint Cup Series champion, earned his 71st career win,
including his fourth at this 1.54-mile racetrack. He joined Joey Logano as
those drivers who have virtually guaranteed themselves a spot in this year’s
Chase for the Sprint Cup championship. Logano won last Sunday’s season-opening
Daytona 500. Johnson is the only driver who has qualified for the Chase every
year since NASCAR instituted a playoff format for its premier series in 2004.
Kevin Harvick grabbed second from Earnhardt in the closing laps and wound up
finishing 1.8 seconds behind Johnson. Harvick, the defending series champion,
has finished either first or second in the last five Sprint Cup races. He was
the runner-up in the Daytona 500.
Earnhardt placed third, followed by Logano, the pole sitter, and Matt Kenseth.
Harvick led a race-high 116 laps, followed by Johnson with 92 laps.
Two big crashes occurred within the final 70 laps of this race. Jeff Gordon,
Denny Hamlin, Jamie McMurray and Ryan Newman were involved in an accident
along the backstretch on lap 257. Gordon, who raced at Atlanta for the final
time, slammed into an area of the inside retaining wall where there was no
energy-absorbing (SAFER) barrier attached to it. He was not injured.
Gordon’s impacted happened eight days after Kyle Busch crashed head-on into an
unprotected concrete wall at Daytona International Speedway. Busch fractured
his right leg and left foot during the accident.
An eight-car wreck took place in turn 3 at Atlanta with 21 laps left. Clint
Bowyer and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. were among those drivers involved.