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Winning Bristol one of Johnson's biggest accomplishments

Chris Symeon, Motorsports Editor

The Inside Line Bristol, TN (Sports Network) - Jimmie Johnson had the mind-set of losing every time he came to Bristol Motor Speedway. That changed on Sunday.

Despite an impressive resume that includes four straight Sprint Cup Series championships, a Daytona 500 victory and three wins at the Brickyard, Johnson entered the Food City 500 with an 0-and-16 record at Bristol. Thanks to another brilliant late-race tire strategy orchestrated by crew chief Chad Knaus, Johnson's winless streak at the famed half-mile, high-banked track came to an end.

Johnson took on four new tires, while most of the leaders grabbed two tires during the last round of pit stops under caution in the closing laps. The plan worked, as Johnson bolted past Tony Stewart for the lead with seven laps to go.

"We did it boys, finally," Johnson joyfully shouted over his team radio after taking the checkered flag for the 50th time in his already illustrious Cup career.

Bristol indeed was a huge win for him.
Jimmie Johnson entered the Food City 500 with an 0-and-16 record at Bristol.
"Every win is extremely special, but when a track kicks your butt for so long and you finally can win at that track, there's just something really unique about that," Johnson said. "That's what I experienced [Sunday]."

Making just his 296th start, Johnson became the fourth-quickest driver to reach 50 victories in NASCAR's premier series. Jeff Gordon (232), Darrell Waltrip (278) and David Pearson (293) reached the milestone in fewer starts.

But winning at Bristol for the first time seemed to be the sweeter milestone for Johnson.

"Before I was in NASCAR and competing in stock cars, I tuned into a few races a year," he said. "If you wanted to watch an action-packed race, you would watch the Bristol race, the night race especially. I think back to when I was running the Nationwide Series. I was at Randy LaJoie's house, and he would have a big party. Every time there was a caution, he would throw out Jello shooters from a big bucket. Everybody would have a big time."

Johnson's win at Bristol left just five tracks on the current series schedule where he has yet to record a victory. The road courses at Watkins Glen, NY and Sonoma, CA, as well as the Chicagoland, Homestead and Michigan ovals remain on his winless list.

At the rate he's running so far this season -- three wins in the first five races -- some of those destinations might be coming off his list quite soon.

Comments? Criticism? Applause? Contact Chris Symeon at csymeon@sportsnetwork.com.

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