3 peat possibility: Johnson becomes a contender in the Chase

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Jimmie Johnson dominated the field and after starting from the pole went on to an easy victory in Sunday night's NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Pepsi 500 at Auto Club Speedway.

Johnson became the first driver to win a Cup race at the two-mile track from the pole when he scored his third win of the 2008 season.

Johnson led 227 of the 250 lap chase to pick-up his 36th career series win at what he considers his home track.

"This is amazing. To have the fan base I have here and the fan support I have out here, it means the world to me here in my home state. I grew up here racing in desert and I had no clue I would have the career I have," the California native Johnson said.

"This race car was unbelievable. “We’ve been working hard to get it right. We’ve been burning the midnight oil, burning the wick at both ends, and it’s paid off. We clinched (a Chase spot) and we got 10 more bonus points, which is important."

“We’ve been doing all the right things,” he added, grinning.

Johnson had the field completely covered from the drop of the green flag and joked about his pure dominance afterward.

"The longest it took me to do anything tonight was to get out of the car, so I apologize for that," Johnson said.

Greg Biffle, who had help from his pit crew all night, did his best to try to run down Johnson in the closing laps but had to settle for a second-place finish.

"The 48 was phenomenal," said Biffle. "We see that happen every once in a while, a guy gets it set up right, gets the car running good and we saw it last night in the Nationwide race and tonight in the Sprint Cup race."

Denny Hamlin was third with Kevin Harvick fourth and Matt Kenseth fifth.

Carl Edwards, Kasey Kahne, Kyle Busch, David Reutimann and Clint Bowyer completed the first ten finishers.

"We ran alright," said Edwards. "It’s great to be disappointed as hell with sixth place. That’s wonderful, but we really wanted three in a row. But we can go win the next three in a row, too. Sixth place is definitely not a win, but it’s not running terrible.”

Johnson, Dale Earnhardt Jr., who finished 11th, and Jeff Burton, who ended up 17th, clinched spots in the Chase with one race remaining to set this year's 12 driver field.

David Ragan, who began the night 12 points out of the final Chase spot, finished 13th and lost ground. He now trails Bowyer for the 12th position by 17 markers.

/> "Whether we make the chase or not, or win the championship or finish 15th in points, we’re gonna try as hard as we can every week and that’s the bottom line," Ragan said. "Whatever we get out of it, we’ll learn and move on from there.”

The Sprint Cup Series now heads to Richmond International Raceway for next Saturday night's Chevy Rock 'n Roll 400, the final race to determine this year's 12 driver championship field.

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