Johnson collects fourth victory at Las Vegas Motor Speedway
Even in the worst economic downturn in the history of Nevada, Las Vegas Motor Speedway attracted more than 150,000 fans Sunday to see Jimmie Johnson collect his fourth victory at the 1.56-mile Diamond in in the Desert.
During the worst economic downturn in the history of Nevada, Las Vegas Motor Speedway delivered on what might be considered a perfect Crisis Management class on the weekend of Feb. 26-28 when Jimmie Johnson won the Shelby American GT350 NASCAR Sprint Cup.
While Johnson overtook teammate Jeff Gordon to capture his fourth victory at the 1.5-mile Diamond in the Desert, Las Vegas cashed in on a $150 million cha ching of its own with a crowd of about 150,000 fans on a glorious Sunday afternoon. It was the ninth consecutive sellout of a NASCAR Cup event.
Ironically, Johnson’s triumph came just as Nev. Gov. Jim Gibbons and state lawmen were frantically attempting to balance a horrendous budget in Carson City. If ever there was a classic example of trying to right-side a disastrous imbalance, it had to be in the form of a classic motorsports gathering of NASCAR stars which came running to Southern Nevada just in time.
As Las Vegas Mayor Oscar Goodman continues to beat the drum working to secure a second NASCAR Sprint Cup race to Southern Nevada, the LVMS event came on the heels of a Fontana, Calif., race that filled about half of its 96,000 seats. With the exception of a couple of accidental yellow lights during the 267-lap event, the finale at LVMS was flawless, colorful and action-packed.
In somewhat of fitting fashion, Johnson continued his dominance of a sport in which he has now captured four consecutive NASCAR Sprint Cup championships since as an off-road racer, the El Cajon, Calif., competitor didn’t fare so well in stadium races at Sam Boyd Silver Bowl and desert racing events.
Finishing third behind Johnson and Gordon were Kevin Harvick with 1998 LVMS NASCAR Winston Cup champion Mark Martin taking fourth and Matt Kenseth finishing fifth.
Rounding out the top ten finishers were Joey Logano, Tony Stewart, Clint Boyer, Kasey Kahne and Greg Biffle.
Pole sitter and Las Vegas native Kurt Busch was sidelined when he was caught up in a wreck between teammates Jamie McMurray and Juan Pablo Montoya.
“Certainly not the day we anticipated in our Miler Lite Dodge,” said Busch. “We had great expectations starting on the pole here at my home track and Lady Luck wasn’t on our side.”
Harvick, whose weekend also included a win Saturday in the Nationwide event, nearly had a clean sweep.
“It was a good day,” Harvick said of Sunday’s effort. “For us, I put us behind on Friday when I smacked the wall there in practice. The guys did a great job fixing the car and we just got behind from that point and we were able to make up ground today. That to me is the most promising thing we've been able to do the last two weeks, is go to the back and come to the front. It was tough to pass today and we were able to get the track position that we needed at the end of the race. We just came up one spot short.”
Danica Patrick’s Las Vegas debut in the Nationwide event was shortened when she collided with Michael McDowell on the 85th lap of the Nationwide event.
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