Indianapolis, IN – Jimmie Johnson joined an elite group of drivers to win at Indianapolis Motor Speedway four times or more with a dominating performance in Sunday's Brickyard 400.
Johnson, the five-time Sprint Cup Series champion, led 99 of 160 laps and crossed the finish line 4.76 seconds ahead of his closest competitor, Kyle Busch. He claimed his third victory of the season and the 58th of his career. Johnson's previous wins at Indianapolis came in 2006, '08 and '09. He also captured the series title in each of those years.
"To come here and win is a huge honor, and then have four wins, I'm at a loss for words," Johnson said. "(Crew chief) Chad Knaus gave me one heck of a race car today. Pit road was awesome too. It was a total team effort, and we put it on them today."
Johnson joined Jeff Gordon, his Hendrick Motorsports teammate, as the only drivers with four Brickyard 400 victories since NASCAR's premier series began competing at this famed 2.5-mile racetrack in 1994.
A.J. Foyt, Rick Mears and Al Unser share the record with four Indianapolis 500 wins, while Formula One legend Michael Schumacher holds the track record with five victories. Each one of Schumacher's wins at Indianapolis came in the United States Grand Prix, which was contested on the track's road course.
"I can remember back to watching the (Indianapolis) 500 with my dad and my grandfather, sitting on the couch, and my grandfather told me stories about Indy and that he came here to the racetrack," said Johnson, who considers Mears as his childhood hero. "I'm glad to have my own memories here."
Busch recorded his best finish at Indianapolis with a second-place run.
"You talk about guys being in their own zip code, (Johnson) was in his own country today," Busch said.
Greg Biffle finished third, while Dale Earnhardt Jr., who also drives for Hendrick, and Gordon rounded out the top-five.
"The car was fast, and I was trying to pass Biffle, but I was aero tight sitting there behind him and couldn't get any closer to him," Earnhardt Jr. said.
Earnhardt Jr. took over the points lead for the first time since September 2004 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.
"If you run in the top-five and top-10 enough, you'll get enough points," he noted. "We would like to win some more races, and I know our fans would like us to win some more races."
Matt Kenseth came to Indianapolis with the points lead, but Kenseth was involved in a four-car wreck between turns one and two with 27 laps remaining. Joey Logano made contact with Trevor Bayne and then spun before bumping into Bobby Labonte and sliding up the track. Logano collected Kenseth and put him into the outside wall.
"It's a disappointing end to the day," said Kenseth, who wound up finishing 35th. "We didn't run particularly well and just kept losing positions. The farther we got back, the dumber people drove. It just kind of got us into some bad spots."
Denny Hamlin, the pole sitter, finished sixth, followed by Ryan Newman, Martin Truex Jr., Brad Keselowski and Indiana-native Tony Stewart, who is the defending series champion and a two-time winner of the Brickyard 400.
Keselowski, who won the inaugural Nationwide Series race at Indianapolis on Saturday, gambled on pit strategy by pitting out of sequence. Keselowski led the way for a restart on lap 101, but he got loose coming out of turn two and dropped back to sixth. He was never a factor from there.
With six races to go before the start of the Chase for the Sprint Cup championship, Kasey Kahne holds the first wild card spot, despite his 12th- place finish. Kahne has two wins for the season, including New Hampshire two weeks ago. Busch occupies the final wild card position.
Carl Edwards' bid to make the Chase took a big hit with a 29th-place finish. Edwards experienced an engine problem early in the race and ended up falling four laps behind after spending time on pit road for repairs. He is now 61 points behind 10th-place Clint Bowyer. Edwards started on the outside pole in his first race with new crew chief Chad Norris.