By CLIFF BRUNT
INDIANAPOLIS — Jimmie Johnson won the Brickyard 400 on Sunday, joining Jeff Gordon as the only four-time winners of the event.
“Man, you just hope to race here,” Johnson said. “To come here and win is a huge honor. And to win four – four wins! I’m at a loss for words. It was just a total team effort. We put it on them today. It was nice.”
Dale Earnhardt, Jr., finished fourth to jump to the top of the points standings.
of because we’ve worked hard all year and wee’ve got something to show for it.”
It was Earnhardt’s best finish in 13 starts at the famed Speedway, and it moved him 14 points ahead of previous leader Matt Kenseth, who finished 35th after a crash.
Earnhardt started 20th before moving up the field. He entered the day confident that the car had speed, despite the mediocre qualifying effort. Even with the speed, it was a challenging day.
œWe got about as good a finish as we could today with the way we were handling, he said. œWe weren’t the best car, but we finished in the top five.”
Gordon, who finished fifth, is impressed with the way Earnhardt and his crew have performed.
œThey’ve been solid this year,” Gordon said. “Give them a lot of credit. It’s really awesome that they’re out front. They’ve been consistent and if they can keep that consistency up and even take it up a notch, it’s going to be rough the rest of the championship.”
Carl Edwards started second but finished 29th after early problems. He left Indy in 12th place in points and in danger of missing the chase for the championship. The performance has changed his approach for the rest of the season.
œI don’t think we are racing for points anymore, he said. œI think we are officially only racing for wins.
Tony Stewart finished 10th for his ninth top-10 finish in 14 starts. Gordon led one lap, meaning he has been out front for at least a lap in 12 of his 19 Brickyard starts.
Polesitter Denny Hamlin finished sixth. Paul Menard, last year’s winner, finished 14th. Jamie McMurray, the 2010 winner, finished 22nd. Juan Pablo Montoya, who has had terrible luck at Indy, started 12th but finished 21st.
Here are some photos of the action:
Here is the start of the race: