Johnson Takes Advantage of Pole to Win Coca-Cola 600
Jimmie Johnson took advantage of his pole position in Sunday’s Coca-Cola 600 and went on to win for the first time this year. He was in great form and praised his car and team after his victory. The victory was not a big surprise for fans as the driver has 67 wins under his belt as well as a record breaking seven at the Charlotte Speedway, where the race took place. Many have been more surprised at the lack of wins this season. This is the fourth time that he has won this particular race, the longest of the year and he is close to beating Darrell Waltrip’s record of five wins. Johnson has now had a consecutive run of 13 seasons with at least one run.
He explained that many people were worried about his lack of wins but as there had only been eleven races in the season so far he was not concerned. He said that he was obviously thrilled to win and said that there had been worries as he has opportunities taken away in previous races and he was keen for that not to happen this time.
He managed to lead for 164 laps and started in poll but the race was not completely straight forward. Matt Kenseth and Kevin Harvick were both pushing to try to win. After 75 laps of leading, Harvick managed to pass him when Johnson got blocked by traffic. Then it was Harvick in control until lap 149. The pace was furious as well, with only ten drivers being on the same first lap and big names such as Danica Patrick, Kurt Busch and Tony Stewart all having been lapped. There was also pressure from Clint Bowyer and Jeff Gordon, who had recovered from his back spasms. There was a caution on lap 148 which then allowed Johnson to get back in the lead but Brad Keselowski took over when David Gilliland hit the wall. However, Harvick then got back in to the lead on lap 191. But then another caution allowed Dale Earnhardy Jr to get in front having stayed off the pit road and Brian Vickers, Jamie McMurray and Tony Stewart were all close with McMurray winning the battle between the four and being able to take the lead after a multi-car wreck on lap 237 which caused knock on problems for Danica Patrick, Josh Wise, Brian Scott and Landon Cassill.
On lap 271 McMurray took a pit stop and Kurt Busch’s engine exploded and then a few laps later Danica Patrick’s engine failed as well. Harvick has loose tyres so had to make a pit stop and it was then left to Kenseth and Johnson to battle it out with each taking a turn at leading. The Keselowski flew in to the lead while the other two pitted but Johnson was ahead on lap 345 and then with Gordon and Harvick in third and fourth they caught up with the lapped cars and were forced to slow. All four had to pit again and Carl Edwrads was able to lead for a while but there was a caution and this made him decide to go to the pits with Harvick, Keselowski and Logano also choosing to. Gordon, Kenseth and Johnson chose to stay out of the pits and they fought for the lead with Gordon succeeding but his tyres let him down and Kenseth was able to get to the lead. It looked like he was going to win it but Johnson made a well-timed overtake on lap 391 and Harvick came forward to overtake Kenseth as well. Carl Edwards was fourth followed by McMurray, Vickers, Jeff Gordon and Paul Menard. This meant that Jeff Gordon is still the points leader over Kenseth.
With Johnson’s win he is closer to securing one of the 15 places in the Chase which are reserved for race winners. Joey Logano and Kevin Harvick already have two race wins and Jeff Gordon, Kyle Busch, Kurt Busch, Dale Earnhardt Jr, Carl Edwards, Brad Keselowski and Denny Hamlin all have one race win. There are still 14 races to go before the places are decided.