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Johnson getting hot in the Chase with Kansas win



Kansas City, KS (Sports Network) - Jimmie Johnson made a strong statement in his bid for a record-extending sixth straight Sprint Cup Series championship on Sunday at Kansas Speedway.

Johnson put on a dominating performance but had to hold off Kasey Kahne during a green-white-checkered finish to win Sunday's Hollywood Casino 400 -- the fourth race in the Chase for the Sprint Cup championship.

The five-time defending series champion led 197 of 272 laps. His Hendrick Motorsports teammate, Jeff Gordon, suffered engine failure in the closing laps, which set up the two-lap overtime finish.

After the restart, Johnson pulled away from Kahne and then beat him at the finish line by a half-second for just his second win of the season. His most recent one came in April at Talladega (22 races ago).

"We've got a very strong group of guys, and we've been knocking on the door all year long," Johnson said. "We got beat in some cases, and we beat ourselves at other times. Today, we went out there and did a great job. We got this car to victory lane."

Johnson notched his 55th career victory, which placed him in a tie with Rusty Wallace for eighth on the series' all-time race winners list. Twenty of his wins have come in Chase races.

He also won at this 1.5-mile track for the second time.

Johnson sat 10th in the point standings after New Hampshire two weeks ago, but has since climbed to third in the rankings, just four points behind new leader Carl Edwards.

"I'm really happy with the way the team is clicking right now," Johnson's crew chief Chad Knaus said. "Jimmie is doing a really good job. The guys are doing a great job on pit road."

Kahne was hoping to give his team a win before Red Bull departs the sport at season's end. Next year, he is moving over to Hendrick to drive the No.5 Chevrolet in place of Mark Martin.

"Jimmie just beat me on the restart," Kahne said. "I spun the tires some, and jumped on it prior to where I thought he would."

Brad Keselowski, who won at Kansas in June, finished third, while Matt Kenseth took the fourth spot. Edwards dealt with an ill-handling car for most of the race but rebounded nicely in the late-going to finish fifth.

"I feel like we won this race," Edwards said. "That was an unbelievable comeback. My guys did a really good job."

Kevin Harvick is now one point behind Edwards after finishing sixth. Keselowski is 11 markers out of the lead. Kenseth moved up two positions to fifth in points (-12).

Clint Bowyer, pole sitter Greg Biffle, Marcos Ambrose and Martin -- all of whom are not Chase drivers -- completed the top-10. Kyle Busch, a title contender, finished 11th and remained eighth in points (-20).

Chase drivers Kurt Busch, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Tony Stewart and Denny Hamlin placed 13th-16th, respectively. Stewart held the points lead after winning the first two playoff races (Chicago and New Hampshire) but has now dropped to seventh in the rankings (-19).

Gordon wound up finishing 34th. The four-time series champion is currently 47 points behind Edwards.

"It's been a sequence of crazy events," Gordon said. "I don't know what happened, but my oil temperature gauge was just pegged for 30 laps, and I knew it was just a matter of time."

Austin Dillon, the points leader in the Camping World Truck Series and the grandson of NASCAR team owner Richard Childress, finished 26th in his Sprint Cup debut.

Six races remain in the Chase, with the series running next Saturday night at Charlotte.

10/09 19:06:48 ET