O’Reilly Auto Parts 500

Using a Superman paint scheme, Jimmie Johnson flies like superhero as he wins at Fontana again

If you're going to wear an "S" on your chest and the cape on your back, you'd better get ready to perform like a superhero.

Sunday at Auto Club Speedway, Southern California native Jimmie Johnson did just that, making a brilliant restart in overtime to pass Kevin Harvick and win the Auto Club 400, Johnson's sixth victory on his home track and 77th of his remarkable career.

It just so happened that Johnson was carrying a special "Superman" paint scheme and matching driver's suit. He didn't wear the cape when he drove, but he did in his post-race interview.

He showed the best for last as he posted the fastest lap of anyone all day in his No. 48 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet on the 205th and final lap at the two-mile Fontana oval.

"I was telling Jimmie just before that restart, 'Buddy, dig in deep, go find that cape.' He did," said Johnson's crew chief, Chad Knaus. "On that restart, he did really well. He got up on the 4 car (Harvick). They pushed past the car on the outside. He was able to drive down to the inside, blow by the 4 car, make it happen."

And that had Knaus beaming.

"I couldn't be prouder," said the six-time championship crew chief. "Jimmie is obviously an amazing, amazing talent behind the wheel. For him to do what he did today I think speaks volumes about what that man is capable of."

For his part, Johnson said his car was better than it had been all day on the final restart.

"We weren't the best on the short runs in all the previous restarts, but that restart, those two laps, whatever Chad did with tire pressures and adjustments on that last stop, the car was incredible," Johnson said.

And that's what it took to win.

"I got a great launch off the bottom of Turn 2," Johnson said. "I was just praying I would hear 'clear' as I turned into Turn 3. Eventually I did. At that point, I felt pretty good about bringing it home with just one more lap to go."    

That he did, becoming the first two-time winner of the season, and a man who looks very much at the top of his game.

"I feel like physically and mentally I'm the best that I've ever been in my career," Johnson said. "I'm in a great space and really enjoying going to the race shop, going to the race track, working with my team. So I'm in the space I want to be in, which tells me it makes me want to stick around and do this for a lot of years."

And that should have his competition worrying about the man with the cape continuing to drive like a superhero.

About the author

The Texas Motor Speedway Media Relations Department is located on the 6th floor of The Speedway Club outside of Turn 1 of the speedway. 

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