HAMPTON, Ga. (AP) _ Jimmie Johnson had the car to beat Sunday,
but it took a late-race charge to catch and pass Tony Stewart three
laps from the end and drive away with a victory in the NASCAR
Nextel Cup race at Atlanta Motor Speedway.
Johnson, the reigning Cup champion, made it two in a row after
beating Hendrick Motorsports teammate Jeff Gordon the previous week
in Las Vegas.
Johnson had some problems with tire wear late in the 325-lap
Kobalt Tools 500 and Stewart, a two-time Cup champion, appeared on
the way to his first victory of the year after coming off pit lane
ahead of Matt Kenseth and third-place Johnson after the final stops
by the leaders during a caution flag on lap 311.
After the green flag waved with 11 laps to go on the
mile-and-a-half oval, Johnson took just three laps to get past
Kenseth, then took off after Stewart in the duel of Chevrolets.
Johnson pulled side-by-side with Stewart just past the finish
line on lap 322. Johnson got his nose out ahead and, as the two
cars drove through turn two, Stewart scraped the wall.
Johnson easily led lap 322 and pulled away from Stewart, going
on to win by about half the front straightaway.
(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)