FONTANA, Calif. – Sunday at Auto Club Speedway ended with a thrilling trip to Victory Lane for Jimmie Johnson, the driver’s second win of the year.
Let’s take a look at what we learned from the event.
MAN OF STEEL
Jimmie Johnson has talked about finding his cape before.
Only this time, he meant it literally.
“Everybody was waiting for a chance to pull out a cape if we won here,” laughed the driver, who was fittingly wearing a cape.
Johnson and the entire No. 48 team took advantage of the unique paint scheme on the No. 48 Lowe’s Superman Chevrolet SS, from capes to a Superman-style leap in Victory Lane.
“The dive was fun," Johnson smiled. "I talked a lot of trash this weekend. I'm glad I backed it up."
All-in-all, it made for a memorable second win of the 2016 season.
“All wins are special,” Johnson said, “but when you have props and a cause like this, it takes it to the next level.
“Truthfully the experience with Warner Bros. has been incredible. (Dale Earnhardt) Jr. and I had a lot of fun through social, put some hype coming into this weekend. One thing I have to point out, too, it was a fun program and certainly cool to sit here wearing the Superman cape, but Lowe's and their willingness to let this opportunity happen is something to speak on. The relationship we have with them has been great over all the years.”
Sunday brought Johnson a victory, and it brought Chase Elliott the best finish of his NASCAR Sprint Cup Series career.
With just 11 laps remaining in the race, the rookie moved all the way up to third place, but even that wasn’t his highest position – he led a lap earlier in the event.
“We were really proud of our group,” Elliott said. “Man, they worked hard all weekend, made a lot of gains on our car from when we unloaded on Friday. Made even more gains during throughout race.”
When the race went to overtime, Elliott took the ensuing restart from the seventh position and nearly found his way back into the top five.
“I thought we had a really good car,” he said. “Just need to get going a little bit better on those restarts and try to maximize that opportunity.”
Ultimately, the rookie said it was a fun race, but he’s already looking ahead to his next chance to hit the track after earning his second consecutive top-10 finish.
“We finished sixth -- it's an improvement,” he said. “We're proud of that, but we're not satisfied. We're excited to get to Martinsville and try to get a little better.”
THE DARK KNIGHT’S NIGHT
While Superman found Victory Lane, Earnhardt made sure Batman had a big day as well.
Earnhardt overcame a starting position of 27th in the No. 88 Nationwide Batman Chevrolet SS despite early handling issues due to contact with a competitor.
“We fought that all day long,” the driver said. “We changed a shock and helped the balance a little bit. We changed and changed and changed and worked on the car all day.”
Just past the midway point of the race, Earnhardt cracked the top 15 and continued racing his way through the pack.
“We got it to where we could race a little bit,” he said. “Then we were up in the top 10 pretty good and short pitted a little bit for that last run and that dang caution came out for a piece of debris in the middle of the cycle. That killed us.”
The caution flag that waved as Earnhardt was making his way off of pit road put him a lap down, and even though he was granted the free pass, he had to restart in 23rd with 40 laps remaining.
Still, by the time the checkered flag waved, he had made it all the way back to 11th.
“I had a blast,” he said. “I love racing here regardless of what aero package we have. This is a fun track.”