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Jimmie Johnson conquers Michigan International Speedway for the first time

Clint Bowyer, driver of the #15 5-hour ENERGY Toyota, waches as five T-34's from Hooligan's Flight Team perform a flyover prior to the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Quicken Loans 400 at Michigan International Speedway
Clint Bowyer, driver of the #15 5-hour ENERGY Toyota, waches as five T-34's from Hooligan's Flight Team perform a flyover prior to the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Quicken Loans 400 at Michigan International SpeedwayWill Schneekloth

Jimmie Johnson takes home the trophy at Michigan International Speedway for the Quicken Loans 400. This is Johnson’s third victory in 4 weeks, and the 6th Hendrick Motorsports victory this season, 5 of those races have been the last 5 points racing.

Jimmie Johnson won Sunday for the first time in 25 Sprint Cup starts at Michigan International Speedway.
Jimmie Johnson won Sunday for the first time in 25 Sprint Cup starts at Michigan International Speedway.Patrick Smith

Johnson can now mark Michigan off his winless list, this morning Johnson had 5 tracks where he had not yet posted a victory, and now the list is down to four, Homestead-Miami Speedway, Chicagoland, Watkins Glen International and Kentucky Speedway. Johnson has 69 victories in 450 NASCAR Sprint Cup series races.

Several times before Johnson has been close with a victory at Michigan having led 586 laps in his 24 starts at the 2-mile oval, before his win today, after leading 39 of the 200 laps scheduled. But crew chief Chad Knaus, with the winning pit strategy, had Johnson pit from the lead under green with 35 laps remaining. As luck would have it the race stayed green for the distance, allowing Johnson to return to the top spot on lap 9 with a very comfortable lead. Johnson took the white flag and the race ended with a margin of victory by 1.214 seconds over second place Kevin Harvick.

“We have figured out every way to lose this race,” Johnson said in victory lane. “Today we were able to get it done.”

“For so many years, my dad was here at the track, and I wanted to win this race for him,” Johnson said. “He’s in upper Michigan this weekend, so dad, we did it…finally.”

It was only last June when at Michigan International Speedway, Johnson was quickly closing the distance on Greg Biffle when he blew a tire with three laps remaining, leaving Biffle to win the race.

Crew chief of the #48 Lowe’s/Kobalt Tools Chevrolet said, after the race still atop his pit box, “It seems like we’ve had the opportunity here in the past, and with less than five laps to go, something always seemed to go wrong. We had to work the pit strategy correctly today, and it was the right call.”

Harvick finished second, making this his third-straight second place finish at MIS, answered one question from the media before he left obviously irritated. Harvick, who led the most laps with 63 for the race had the car to beat, but pit strategy did not play his way, leaving the door open for Johnson to win.

Brad Keselowski finished in third, Paul Menard finished in fourth, and Kasey Kahne finished in fifth, with Jeff Gordon, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Kyle Larson, Joey Logano and Clint Bowyer rounding out the top ten finishers.

NASCAR Sprint Cup will head to Sonoma Raceway for the Toyota Save Mart 350, qualifying for the race will be covered on Fox Sports 1 on Saturday, June 21 starting at 1:30 pm with the race Sunday, June 22 with coverage beginning at 3 pm on TNT.