John­son be­gins drive for five Cup cham­pi­onships with a victory at Cal­i­for­nia

Cape Breton Post - - SPORTS - BY STEPHEN HAWKINS

to block. Har­vick scrapped the out­side wall out of Turn 4 and lost his mo­men­tum, al­low­ing John­son to go on to his 48th ca­reer victory, and fifth in 15 races at his home track.

“ There’s no way of get­ting around how lucky they are,” Har­vick said.

John­son pulled onto pit road for his fi­nal stop with 26 laps left, while be­hind him Brad Ke­selowski spun out in Turn 4. When ev­ery­body else fi­nally got to pit un­der cau­tion, that made John­son the leader and he stayed there the rest of the way.

“For­tune came our way,” John­son said. “I’m not go­ing to lie. The fact that we were on pit row gave us track po­si­tion and I drove my butt off. ”

Jeff Bur­ton, who fin­ished third, was on John­son’s bumper on the restart but never could get around him. He was even­tu­ally passed by his Richard Chil­dress team­mate Har­vick.

Har­vick cut the mar­gin by more than six-tenths of a sec­ond in a mat­ter of laps — from .983 to .311. He was mak­ing his move at the end of lap 247 of 250 when he brushed against the wall.

John­son had won the last three fall races at Cal­i­for­nia, but Roush Fen­way driv­ers had won the last five Fe­bru­ary races on the slick two-mile su­per­speed­way be­fore Sun­day.

John­son led eight times for 101 laps and won with an av­er­age speed of 141.911 mph. It was his fifth victory in the last 11 Sprint Cup races.

De­spite not winning, it was an­other strong show­ing for the Richard Chil­dress Racing trio, with Clint Bowyer’s eight-place fin­ish back­ing Har­vick and Bur­ton.

Richard Chil­dress didn’t win any races — or even have a top­five fin­ish — last sea­son with four full-time cars. All three driv­ers fin­ished in the top 11 at the Day­tona 500 last week be­fore an­other strong show­ing in South­ern Cal­i­for­nia.

Mark Martin,

John­son’s Hen­drick team­mate, fin­ished fourth, fol­lowed by Joey Logano and Kurt Busch. Matt Kenseth started 20th and fin­ished sev­enth with new crew chief Todd Par­rott on his pit box, the best re­sult for Roush Fen­way.

Juan Pablo Mon­toya started in the front row be­side pole­sit­ter and Earn­hardt Ganassi team­mate Jamie McMur­ray. Mon­toya had the lead by the end of the first lap and stayed there un­til John­son went un­der him on the 30th lap.

Mon­toya was run­ning 15th on lap 140 when the en­gine on his No. 42 Chevro­let blew up along the frontstretch.

Day­tona 500 McMur­ray fin­ished 17th.

win­ner

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