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Up to the Challenge: Johnson Wins All-Star Race

CONCORD, N.C. (May 20, 2006) - Jimmie Johnson piloted his No. 48 Lowe’s Chevrolet Monte Carlo SS to Victory Lane and collected a $1 million check in one of the biggest payoffs in NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series racing Saturday night at Lowe’s Motor Speedway.

Johnson and his Chad Knaus-led team paced 33 laps and captured their second win in the NASCAR NEXTEL All-Star Challenge.  They also won the event in 2003.

“As long as it has Lowe’s on it, there is going to be extra motivation to win here,” Johnson said. “We approach every race with the same attitude and give 100 percent.  But there is nothing sweeter than standing on the stage with Robert Niblock, the CEO of Lowe’s, and seeing the smile on his face and knowing that all the employees around the country are just flipping out about this victory.”

The victory was Johnson’s seventh win at the track and his second in the Challenge.  He has won five of the last six points-paying NEXTEL Cup races at Lowe’s Motor Speedway and will be going for his fourth consecutive 600-mile win win next Sunday.

Jeff Gordon, a three-time All-Star Challenge winner, finished third in his No. 24 DuPont Chevrolet, with Kyle Busch 16th after being involved in an accident.

Busch had one of the fastest cars in the field, leading 21 laps and winning the opening segment.  He was moved to 10th to begin the second segment after the top-10 cars were inverted.

“We were awful strong that first segment and were able to win it,” Busch said. “Coming back through the field was going to be a little bit of a challenge, but we were dedicated to it and up for the challenge.

“Unfortunate circumstances for the Kellogg’s Chevrolet; we had a couple guys up front that got together and started a whole melee. There was no real place for me to go.”

Driving a No. 25 GMAC Chevrolet, Brian Vickers finished third in the NEXTEL Open, an event he won last season.