Jimmie Johnson took the lead for good in Sunday night’s Coca-Cola 600 nine laps from the finish, and piloted his #48 Lowe’s Chevrolet SS to the win, his first of the 2014 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season. He edged out the #4 Budweiser Chevy SS of Kevin Harvick for his fourth career 600 win, trailing longtime NASCAR Chevy racer (and three-time Cup champ) Darrell Waltrip’s record of four 600 wins.
The race ended Johnson’s 13-race winless streak, and marked the his 13th straight season with at least one win in NASCAR’s top series.
The win was also the 23rd win for Chevrolet in the Cup Series’ longest race (and fourth in a row) dating back to 1960, when Joe Lee Johnson won the inaugural World 600 in a ’60 Chevy. Along with both Johnsons and D.W., other Chevy drivers who’ve won the 600 include Dale Earnhardt, Benny Parsons, and Neil Bonnett.
"It's great to win, but believe me, and I promise you, all the hype and all the concern and worry, that was elsewhere,” Johnson told NASCAR Online in the winner’s circle after the race. “That wasn't in my head, and we've had bad races. I have to be honest about that, too."
But Johnson also told NASCAR Online that the mystique of the #48 Lowe’s Chevy might be back. "Yeah, they know we're awake," Johnson added. "In winning, it doesn't matter who you are. The #4 car (Kevin Harvick) has had that momentum this year. They've been able to go out and execute and show a lot of speed and win.
"Hopefully, the 48 is heading that way, and we can get those other people thinking about us."
Joining Johnson and Harvick in the Coca-Cola 600’s Top Ten were the Chevy SS’s of 2010 winner Jamie McMurray (who finished fifth), two-time 600 winner and four-time Cup Champion Jeff Gordon (seventh) and Paul Menard (eighth)—giving Chevrolet the most Top Ten finishers in this year’s 600 than any other brand on the track.
In fact, there were more Chevrolets in this year’s Coca-Cola 600 (22) than any other brand, and the strong performances by Johnson, Harvick, Gordon and Menard boosted Chevrolet’s lead in the Manufacturer’s standings in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. Chevy also leads all brands in ’14 Cup Series wins with six (so far).
Gordon’s seventh-place finish kept him in first place in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver points standings, with Harvick in second and Johnson moving up to sixth in the points chase.