It didn’t take Jimmie Johnson too long to pick his first win of the 2015 NASCAR season, following his fifth place finish in Daytona with winning his 71st career race in Atlanta at the Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500, which puts him in second place behind Joey Logano and one of the four drivers so far with two top 5 finishes to kick off the season.
Johnson, a six-time Sprint Cup champion, pulled away after the final restart with 13 laps remaining. He finished 1.803 seconds ahead of the defending cup champion, Kevin Harvick, also having his second top 5 finish this season. With the win, Johnson should be in the chase at the end of the season, giving him a shot to tie the championship number of Richard Petty and Dale Earnhardt. Last year it took him 12 races to pick up his first win.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. came in third, also making it a second top 5 finish for him, followed by Daytona 500 winner Joey Logano and Matt Kenseth. Johnson took advantage of the big crash on lap 305, finding himself in front of the pack when the green flag was waved, getting the win despite not being on the track during qualifying with his car not passing inspection.
Harvick led the race for 116 laps, more than anyone else, but also had a setback that left him behind the rest after blowing an engine during Saturday’s practice. He ended up finishing in second place for a second straight week. The first big crash came on lap 257, taking out Jeff Gordon, Denny Hamlin and Jamie McMurray. On lap 305, Greg Biffle clipped Joe Nemechek going into turn,taking four other cars with him and bringing out the red flag.
Jeff Gordon is having a rough start to his farewell season from the circuit, racing in Atlanta for the final time, where he started his career in 1992. He now has a 33rd place finish in Daytona and 41st in Atlanta to kick off the season, placing him at 33rd at the moment among the point getters in the two races this season so far.