SPEEDWAY — Jimmie Johnson decided to play a high speed, 400-mile game of “tag” and no one could touch him.
The driver of the No. 48 Lowe’s/Kobalt Tools Chevrolet passed Greg Biffle with 29 laps to go and cruised to his fourth Brickyard 400 victory in a class of his own by leading 99 of the 160 laps and beating second place Kyle Busch by 4.758 seconds in the 19th Annual Crown Royal presents the Curtiss Shaver 400 at The Brickyard.
“To come here and win is a huge honor and then to have four wins… I’m lost for words,” said Johnson, who also won his third race of the 2012 season. “It was a total team effort. We put it on them today.”
Johnson added to his 2006, ’08 and ’09 Brickyard 400 victories with a dominating performance at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and joins A.J. Foyt, Al Unser Jr., Rick Mears, Jeff Gordon and Michael Schumacher in the elite group of drivers who have won four or more times at the world’s most famous race track.
“This fourth (win) I’m able to join racing legends, my heroes, people I looked up to my entire life,” Johnson said. “To join them is a huge, huge honor.”
Team owner Rick Hendrick notched his series-high eighth win at the 2.5-mile oval with four coming from both Johnson and Gordon. Each win at Indy is special to Hendrick.
“Every time you come here you know how important this place is,” Hendrick said. “Everybody wants to win here because of the unique history of this place.”
Busch had a view of the 48 bumper from his windshield much of the afternoon and did not have anything for the five-time Sprint Cup champion.
“If it wasn’t for the 48, we were probably in a different zip code than the rest of the field. But Jimmie Johnson was in his own country today,” Busch said. “We just couldn’t keep up with him, that was the best we had.”
Biffle finished third and Dale Earnhardt Jr. placed fourth, taking over the series points lead after a late caution knocked previous points leader, Matt Kenseth, out of the race.
With 28 laps to go, Joey Logano went under Trevor Bayne in Turn 1 but bobbled and lost control, hitting Bobby Labonte’s No. 47 car on the bottom of the track. The contact shot Logano’s car up the track and he smashed the No. 17 of Kenseth against the wall who finished 35th.
Earnhardt Jr. sits atop the series points standings by 14 markers, for the first time since September 2004.
“If you run in the top five or top 10 enough, you will get points,” Earnhardt Jr. said. “But we would like to win some races. I know our fans would like us to win some more races.”
Gordon finished in fifth and ran up in the top 10 most of the afternoon. The driver of the No. 24 Drive to End Hunger Chevrolet felt that with better track position, he could have challenged his teammate for the victory.
“We had a car that could compete for the win, I think we were probably one of the only ones who could compete with the 48,” Gordon said. “We had as good of a race car if not better, we could just never get the track position. When we did it was just so hard to pass.”
Other notable Hoosier finishes include Ryan Newman (South Bend) in seventh, two-time Brickyard 400 winner Tony Stewart (Columbus) in 10th and David Stremme (South Bend) in 24th.
Pole sitter Denny Hamiln led the first 26 laps but fell back after bobbling on a restart and rebounded to finish sixth.