Kansas City, KS (SportsNetwork.com) - Jimmie Johnson scored his Sprint Cup Series-leading third win of the season after holding off Kevin Harvick in the closing laps of Saturday night's SpongeBob SquarePants 400 at Kansas Speedway.
This 400-mile race was stopped for 2 hours and 16 minutes due to a heavy shower that moved over this 1.5-mile racetrack after 98 of 267 laps had been completed.
Johnson, the six-time Sprint Cup champion, elected not to pit during the last round of pit stops under caution and took over the lead with 10 laps to go. His Hendrick Motorsports teammates, Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Jeff Gordon, also did not pit. Johnson started 19th and was not much of a factor for most of the race.
On lap 5, Johnson almost spun out after exiting turn 4 and dropped as far back as 30th in the field before he patiently made his way towards the front.
After the final restart with six laps left, Johnson pulled away from Earnhardt and Harvick, who had pitted. Johnson beat Harvick to the finish line by 0.487 seconds, while Earnhardt crossed the line in third.
"It was a long, hard night of racing and fighting for track position, but once we got up to the front, we were able to hang on for the final laps," Johnson said.
Johnson, who led only the last 10 laps, won at Kansas for the third time, which placed him in a tie with Gordon for most victories at this track. Gordon won last year's night race here. He finished fourth in this event.
Of Johnson's 73 career victories in NASCAR's top series, 23 of them have occurred on 1.5-mile tracks. He won the March 1 race at Atlanta and the April 11 event at Texas, which are both a mile and a half in length.
Harvick, the defending series champion and current points leader, has now finished either first or second in eight of the first 11 races this season. He led a total of 53 laps and had the top spot before pitting with 10 laps to go.
"The 48 (Johnson) and 88 (Earnhardt) didn't have the speed, so they gambled and they were able to get enough cars in between me that I wasn't able to have enough laps to get around them," Harvick said of the last restart.
Joey Logano finished fourth after starting on the pole and leading the first 29 laps. Matt Kenseth placed sixth, followed by Brad Keselowski and Kurt Busch.
Martin Truex Jr. led a race-high 95 laps, but Truex took fuel only during his last pit stop and faded after the final restart to finish ninth.
"Definitely not the finish we wanted, but proud of the guys (No. 78 Furniture Row Racing team) for the weekend we had, just had good speed all weekend, brought a brand new car here and just proud of that," said Truex, who is now winless in his last 67 races. "It's kind of disappointing, but at the same time, I'm proud of the way we ran. I think it's something we can build off of."
Ryan Newman completed the top-10.
Erik Jones finished 40th in his first career Sprint Cup start. The 18-year-old Jones, who substituted for the injured Kyle Busch in the No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota, looked impressive for most of the race and had been running among the top-five before he lost control and crashed into the wall with 72 laps remaining. He returned after spending 25 laps in the garage for repairs.
"I learned a lot about racing up front with these (Sprint Cup) guys," Jones said. "I just got loose off of (turn) 4 and lost it, so it was all my fault. We had a great night and something to take away from it. I'm ready to do another one. Hopefully, I'll get another shot at it."