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Johnson's All-Star win raises eyebrows

CONCORD, N.C. — It's only fitting that Jimmie Johnson's latest romp through the record books was shrouded in controversy.

What's a J.J. win, after all, without a good conspiracy theory?

The latest instance of black helicopters hovering over the Hendrick Motorsports team came late in Saturday night's Sprint All-Star Race after Johnson headed down pit road in fourth place for the final stop. A speedy quick four-tire change sent him back onto the track in second and in position for his record fourth All-Star victory.

But an incorrect graphic during the live TV telecast claimed Johnson should have been farther back in the field before the mandatory last pit stop that set up the final 10-lap segment.

So as the beer and champagne swirled in Victory Lane, angry fans pounced on the inconsistency and argued Johnson should never have been in position for the win. Johnson simply offered a bemused shrug.

"I don't have the slightest clue. People just want to hate," he said. "That's fine. I'm just lucky. NASCAR rigs the races and whatever they want to believe. I'm going home with a cool trophy and a big check and we all really know what happened. So whatever."

Whatever was what the rest of the field was saying after yet another Johnson win at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

The five-time Sprint Cup champion became the first four-time winner of the All-Star Race, breaking a tie with the late Dale Earnhardt and teammate Jeff Gordon.

It was fitting that he did it at Charlotte. Johnson has dominated at the 1½-mile oval since his 2002 rookie season, with six victories in points races and more than 1,600 laps led.

Now he'll head back this week for the Coca-Cola 600, a race he won three straight years from 2003-05 when the No. 48 was unbeatable at Charlotte. The rest of the field caught up after a repave, and Johnson's last win in a points race was 2009.

"We've had decent finishes and been competitive and led laps, but the track is just so different now than it was then, and we had it scienced out," crew chief Chad Knaus said. "We knew literally (according to the) time in the afternoon what adjustment needed to be made to the car, and it was like clockwork, didn't matter the year, just every single time. It's not that way anymore."

NHRA: Jeg Coughlin broke a drought of more than two years and surpassed 500 career rounds won, taking the Pro Stock title at the Kansas Nationals in Topeka. Coughlin, 42, beat teammate Allen Johnson with a run of 6.680 seconds at 206.20 mph. Shawn Langdon won Top Fuel in the quickest time of the weekend (3.750, 324.20) to beat Tony Schumacher, and Johnny Gray (4.067, 314.90) topped Robert Hight, who lost traction, for the Funny Car title.

Schrader feat: Longtime NASCAR driver Ken Schrader, 57, became the oldest winner in ARCA history, dominating the Menards 200 at Toledo Speedway in Ohio.

Johnson's All-Star win raises eyebrows 05/19/13 [Last modified: Sunday, May 19, 2013 11:01pm]
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