Johnson leaps back to top of Sprint Cup pile
Jimmie Johnson regained the accolade of being the highest NASCAR Sprint Cup driver in the Castrol EDGE Rankings with a dominant victory in the Brickyard 400.
The American had dropped to a new low of 17th in the Rankings following a difficult month in May, but gradually worked his way back up the order, even recapturing top spot in early July.
He was promptly demoted by Tony Stewart following the latter’s triumph in a wild Daytona finish, but reasserted himself once again at Indianapolis.
The five-time Cup champion moved into the lead of the race after the first round of pitstops and was always in contention thereafter.
29 laps from the end Johnson jumped back into the lead and stretched away, his eventual winning margin of 4.7 seconds a record a Brickyard 400 record.
His fourth victory in the race also provided dividends in the Rankings, allowing him to leap two places to eighth overall.
As he gained, his closest Rankings rivals all struggled.
Stewart, the man who demoted Johnson just three weeks ago, held off Mark Martin to seal 10th on the road.
That was not enough to prevent him sliding two spots to 10th, a four-place swing between him and Johnson.
There was worse news for Matt Kenseth, who entered Indianapolis one spot above Johnson in the Rankings and left it five places down.
The Roush Fenway man also surrendered the Sprint Cup points’ lead after retiring 28 laps from the finish. He drops to 13th in the Rankings as a result.
The scale of his fall means he now sits behind team-mate Carl Edwards, who also dropped one spot to 12th after finishing four laps down in 29th.
Moving in the opposite direction was Denny Hamlin, who despite narrowly missing out on a top five finish still gained three spots to move into 21st overall.