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Johnson joins NASCAR, IMS legends with fourth career Brickyard 400 win


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By Jason Haddix



INDIANAPOLIS— Forty-three of NASCAR’s best drivers lined up for the 2012 Brickyard 400 and a chance to put their name among the legends of the racing world.

That’s exactly what Jimmie Johnson did.

Johnson led five times and a total of 99 laps (250 out of 400 miles) — the final and most important time on lap 132 — and never looked back as he drove his way into IMS history with his forth win at the historic track.

“We’re gonna kiss the bricks,” he said as he crossed the signature brick start/finish line.

“To come here and win is a huge honor, then to have four wins I’m at a loss for words,” Johnson said. “I can tell you this I’m so proud of my team.  I’m so proud of everybody at Hendrick Motorsports, Lowe’s, Kobalt Tools and Chevrolet. It was a total team effort and we put it on them today that was nice.”

Among those in the racing world, there is little question to the historical value of winning a race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, making it one of the most important stops on the NASCAR schedule.

“I think everybody shares the same emotion when you drive through the tunnel and come into this race track,” Johnson said. “You know you are somewhere special. After being in the sport for 11 seasons now, it still has that same feel to me.”

He joined his teammate, Jeff Gordon, as the only drivers to win here four times. The win also put him with the same number of IMS wins as his childhood hero, Rick Mears.

Throughout the race, the No. 48 Lowes had the fastest car on the track. Each time he he retook the lead, the distance between first and second grew. At the restart from a caution on lap 141, Johnson jumped out to a 1.455 second lead. He won by 5.125 seconds.

“What a day,” Johnson said. “We had a fast car. Very special day.”

The second and third place finishers, Kyle Busch and Greg Biffle, were victims of Johnson’s dominance during the race.

“Jimmie Johnson was in his own country today,” Busch said. “We just couldn’t keep up with him.

Biffle said Johnson had a really good car and was so fast he was able to run him down from 25 car lengths behind in two laps.
 
Regan Smith finished the race in eighteenth place.

His race team, Furniture Row Racing, is based near Aurora, Colo., the location of the recent movie theater tragedy in which a gunman killed 12 people attending a screening of the Dark Knight Rises.

Smith’s car used a special paint scheme to honor those killed with victim’s names painted on the quarter panels of this car.

The hood of the car showcased a ribbon with a memorial cross and the red and gold logo that appears on the Colorado state flag. The rear bumper read, “For Those Lost, Those Injured And Countless Acts of Bravery 7/20/12.”

"Our hearts go out to the victims and to their families," Joe Garone, Furniture Row Racing general manager, said. "It really hits close to home for us here in Colorado. The movie theater where the shooting took place is only a few miles from where our team is based in Denver. We mourn the loss of life from this senseless tragedy, and feel we also need to stand up and acknowledge the heroism of those people who put their lives on the line to save others. Our thoughts this weekend will be with all the people who suffered from this horrific act of violence."

Dale Earnhardt Jr. took a 14-point lead in the Sprint Cup point standings with his forth place finish. Matt Kenseth, the point leader entering the race, was involved in an accident that resulted in a caution on lap 134. He finished the race in 35th place and dropped to second.

“We are working real hard, really happy with out results today,” Earnhardt Jr. said. “I know our fans would like some more races.”

As Johnson crossed the bricks, it brought the end to Super Weekend at the Brickyard.

“It has been an interesting weekend, a lot of fun,” Mike Helton, NASCAR president said. “Hopefully it works out to where we can do this more often over the years.”

IMS President Jeff Belskus felt the event benefited more than just the speedway.

“I think the Super Weekend has been super,” Belskus said. “Our fans seem to be enjoying it. This is an important event for Indianapolis Motor Speedway, it’s a great event for Indianapolis and the state of Indiana.”

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Driver Kasey Kahne next to his No. 5 Farmers Insurance Chevrolet. Kahne would finish Sunday’s Brickyard 400 in 12th place after suffering contact with another car on pit road. Darryl Smith Buy Photos
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Two V-22 Osprey from the U.S. Marine Corps Flyover Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Sunday before the start of the 2012 Brickyard 400. Darryl Smith Buy Photos
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The grand stands near the finish line were crowded with spectators Sunday July 29th for the 2012 Brickyard 400. Darryl Smith Buy Photos
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Kevin Harvick in No. 29 Jimmy Johns Chevrolet and Trevor Bayne in the No. 21 Ford at the Brickyard 400 on Sunday. Darryl Smith Buy Photos
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A NASCAR official looks on as the No. 20 Dollar General car driven by Joey Logano is worked on in the pits. Logano was involved in a crash in lap 132 of Sunday’s Brickyard 400 and eventually had to take the car into the garage for repair. Darryl Smith Buy Photos
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Matt Kenseth’s No. 17 undergoes repairs in the garage after a crash on lap 132 of Sunday’s Brickyard 400. Darryl Smith Buy Photos
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Four time Brickyard 400 winner Jimmie Johnson and crew kiss the bricks at the start / finish line after Sunday's race. Johnson was joined by his wife Chandra and their daughter Genevieve Marie. Genevieve could not be persuaded to kiss the bricks with her parents. Darryl Smith Buy Photos
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No. 48 Hendricks Motorsports team driver Jimmie Johnson Kissed the bricks after winning the 19th Brickyard 400 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Sunday. Johnson has now claimed victory at this event four times. Darryl Smith Buy Photos

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