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NASCAR: Jimmie Johnson wins the Auto Club 500

By Matt Harding     Feb 21, 2010 in Sports
Fontana - The Auto Club 500 was a wild one at the Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California. Jimmie Johnson won the race after leading since the last restart.
The 2010 Auto Club 500, while not as great as the Daytona 500 last week, was a terrific race.
Jamie McMurray, winner of the Daytona 500, was this week's pole sitter. But, McMurray didn't even lead the first lap; that would go to Juan Pablo Montoya.
And with that, racing in Fontana had begun.
After 56 laps, the first yellow flag was waved due to debris in Turn 1. The record for most laps under green at the Auto Club Speedway is 68. Kevin Harvick had been leading prior to the yellow flag.
When green flag racing commences on Lap 61, Jimmie Johnson led, followed by Mark Martin, Brian Vickers, Montoya, and Clint Bowyer.
The second yellow flag dropped 31 laps after green flag racing resumed. Kasey Kahne got under the car of Montoya and spun through the infield grass. Significant damage to Kahne's car forces him to pit.
On Lap 97, the green flag was waved with Johnson leading. Martin, Vickers, Jeff Gordon, and Greg Biffle all followed.
Lap 141 brought about the 3rd caution; Montoya ran into the wall on Turn 1. Another caution came soon after, on Lap 147. Ryan Newman blew his engine and headed to the garage. The green flag, once again, dropped on Lap 153. Gordon, in the No. 24 Chevrolet, led. He was followed by Sam Hornish Jr., Kyle Busch, Jeff Burton, and Kurt Busch.
Ten laps after Dale Earnhardt Jr. reported a broken axle on pit road, Yellow Flag No. 5 dropped. The reason for the caution was rain. Brad Keselowski got the free pass to continue on the lead lap. Radar was showing light rain over the track, with more rain to come. Denny Hamlin, the leader at the time, came to pit road for fuel. He relinquished the lead to Scott Speed. On Lap 195, the drivers were asked to stagger their positions to keep the track clean.
Sadly for Speed, he was running out of fuel. Three laps later, he headed to pit road to get fuel.
On Lap 199, Burton brought the field to the green flag. Ky. Busch, Gordon, Bowyer, and Harvick followed.
Rainy skies would threaten the track for many more laps to come. At this point in the race, one side of the track was overcast while the other was overwhelmed with sun.
On Lap 223, the sixth yellow flag of the day was waved when Keselowski got into the wall on Turn 4. He was running 13th at the time. He went to the pits for fuel and tires.
Kahne, in the No. 9 Budweiser Ford, would come back to the track on Lap 225. He came back 29 laps behind the leader.
The restart occurred with 21 laps to go. Johnson, in the No. 48 Lowe's Chevy, led the field to the green from the inside. Harvick, Burton, Martin, and Ku. Busch followed the No. 48.
Would they green flag race to the finish? Only time would tell.
For now, Johnson would run one of the fastest laps of the race (on Lap 233). With 12 to go, Harvick was 1.25 seconds behind the leader, Johnson.
Joey Logano, in the No. 20 Home Depot Toyota, moved up to fifth place; teammates Harvick and Burton battled it out for second place, still trailing Johnson.
After starting at around 1.25 seconds behind Johnson, Harvick inched closer to him with 4 to go.
The white flag waved with Johnson still ahead. He would go on to win the Auto Club 500.
Johnson hasn't won this race since 2002, when it was the NAPA Auto Parts 500.
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