Jimmie Johnson drove to victory in the Auto Club 400 at Auto Club Speedway Sunday, making for his 77th NASCAR Sprint Cup Series win and surpassing Dale Earnhardt on the all-time wins list.
Kevin Harvick had led the majority of the race until Lap 198 of 200, when Kyle Busch’s Toyota blew a tire and hit the wall at Turn 3, bringing out the sixth caution of the day. This sent the frontrunners to the pits for fresh tires, with Denny Hamlin winning the race off pit lane followed by Harvick and then Johnson.
The race got back underway in overtime on Lap 204, with Hamlin starting from the outside lane for the restart and Harvick on the inside. When the green came back out, Johnson pushed Harvick past Hamlin and raced with Harvick through Turn 1. He then dipped below him, tightly hugged the inside line and side drafted him down the back straight, easily pulling ahead of the No. 4 Chevrolet to win by .772 seconds.
“I got a great run off of Turn 2, and I thought ‘Man I’ve got a shot at this thing,'” Johnson told NASCAR.com. “Which I didn’t expect to have. Harvick has been so fast. I cleared him and kind of got away.”
Hamlin slotted in behind Harvick in third, followed by Joey Logano in fourth and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. in fifth. Chase Elliott (sixth), AJ Allmendinger (eighth) and Jamie McMurray (10th) were the remaining Chevrolets in the top ten. Two Chevy drivers, Danica Patrick and Kyle Larson, fell victim to heavy crashes that ended their days.