Jimmie Johnson, driving the #48 Lowe’s/Superman Chevrolet, won the 20th Annual Auto Club 400 passing Kevin Harvick, who finished second despite leading 142 of the 205 lap event, on the next-to-last lap to take the victory in a superhero fashion.
Johnson passed Dale Earnhardt for seventh on the all-time win list for NASCAR victories with his 77th career victory in 512 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races. This is Johnson’s second overtime win in the 2016 season and his sixth victory at Auto Club Speedway, the most of any driver at the track.
“Somebody get me my damn cape!” Johnson excitedly shouted into his team radio after crossing the start-finish line for the win.
As Johnson exited his car and donned his superman cape, he said, “I knew we had a great car. To go there at the end and have good tires on the car… Harvick and I got by (Hamlin) there on the restart, I had a great run off Turn 2 and I thought, ‘Man, I have a shot at this thing,’ which I didn’t expect to have. Harvick has been so fast. And I cleared him and kind of got away.”
“We saved our best for last for sure,” said Johnson. “I told everyone Superman would kick Batman’s butt (referring to Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s #88 Chevrolet car design who finished 11th).”
Harvick appeared to be cruising to an easy victory when Kyle Busch, who was in second, blew a right front tire and brushed the Turn 3 wall on Lap 198 bringing out the sixth caution sending the race into overtime. As the field took to pit road for the final time of the race, Denny Hamlin’s #11 Toyota beat Harvick off pit road with an incredible 10.6 second pit stop.
Harvick started in second with Johnson pushing him to the lead, before working the low line to make the pass going through Turns 3 and 4. Johnson would lead the final lap of the race earning the 77th victory and his second of this season after having won at Atlanta and is the first two-time winner for the season. This is the 14th time Johnson and Harvick finished 1-2 with Johnson winning the last 9 of those races.
Johnson would do his victory burn-out and upon collecting the checkered flag the Superman theme song played as he climbed out of his car to salute the fans. It was the third overtime finish out of five races this season.
Harvick would finish second, with Denny Hamlin finishing in third, Joey Logano and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. rounded out the top five. Sixth through Twelfth are as follows: Rookie Chase Elliott, Carl Edwards, A. J. Allmendinger, Brad Keselowski, Jamie McMurray, Earnhardt Jr., and Brian Scott.
Harvick leads the NASCAR Sprint Cup series in the points by 11 over Johnson.
Next weekend is an off-weekend for the NASCAR drivers for the Easter break.