NASCAR Pepsi 500 won by Jimmie Johnson
On the track it was a two-car race, Jimmie Johnson and Juan Pablo Montoya. There wasn't much more to talk about. Johnson seemed to be able to take the lead at will, spreading the cars around the track in a rather uninteresting way.
So, when the always familiar debris was allegedly spotted on the backstretch with 15 laps to go, you figured it was one last hope to put some excitement into the 500 mile race.
But, in the remaining laps there was enough excitement to compensate for what to many was a rather boring Sunday afternoon of racing.
It started as the green dropped and Jeff Gordon edged in front of Johnson. But the action shifted to the back as Kurt Busch bobbled and hit Kasey Kahne forcing another restart with seven laps to go.
Only this restart made the previous one look easy as a series of collisions took place near the middle causing damage to the cars of Dale Earnhardt Jr., A.J. Allmendinger, Jeff Burton, Kahne (yes, again), Elliott Sadler, Marcos Ambrose, Brian Vickers and Reed Sorenson. It appeared that Sadler had been trying to push Earnhardt forward but things went awry when Junior started to go sideways. It was Junior's sixth DNF of the season. He was having a good run having been as high as sixth earlier in the race.
NASCAR officials red-flagged the race to clean up actual debris and oil. Allmendinger and Sorenson were briefly admitted to the infield care center and released before the race restarted. the red flag lasted 21:45.
When the final restart got going with three laps to go it was teammates Jimmie Johnson on the inside and Jeff Gordon on the outside. Johnson took a slight lead, racing side-by-side through the first turns with Johnson finally slipping ahead and showing the power he had exercised most of the race to put the race away.
In the end it was Johnson over Gordon by 1.6 seconds followed by Montoya, Mark Martin, Tony Stewart, Carl Edwards, David Ragan, Kurt Busch, Clint Bowyer and Kevin Harvick.
The win gave Johnson the lead in the Chase by 12 points over Martin.
-- John Cherwa
Photo: Jimmie Johnson races to victory at Fontana. Credit: Chris Graythen, Getty Images.