CONCORD, N.C. — Jimmie Johnson can stop answering the questions now.
Johnson finally picked up his first victory of the year – 12 races into the season, which tied a career-long for him – with his fourth win in the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
He passed 2013 championship rival Matt Kenseth for the win with nine laps to go, sweeping underneath the No. 20 car and driving away.
"Yes!" Johnson said on the team radio. "That was 48 business all day long right there."
Kevin Harvick was second, Kenseth third, Carl Edwards fourth and All-Star Race winner Jamie McMurray was fifth.
"I thought we had a top five car. I thought it was definitely an improvement," said Kenseth, still seeking a win in 2014. "I just couldn't hold them off unfortunately. I just couldn't hold off the 48 (Johnson) and the 4 (Harvick)."
The victory effectively locks Johnson into the Chase for the Sprint Cup – which he has never missed – but he said prior to the race he was hardly concerned.
"Absolutely, it's a relief. It's great to win," Johnson said. "I promise you, all the hype and all the concern, that was elsewhere. We've had some bad races, I'm not going to lie, but tonight we had a great racecar.
"They know we're awake. And winning, it doesn't matter who you are. The 4 (Harvick) has been able to go out there and dominate, but now that we've got one, we're right there."
The win gave Johnson several landmarks at this 1.5-mile layout:
--His seventh victory
--He has seven points wins here, snapping a tie with Bobby Allison and Darrell Waltrip
--He celebrated his fourth Coca-Cola 600 victory. Only Waltrip has more (five).
Harvick was asked just two questions in the media center and was clearly miffed at the loose wheel that might have cost him what would have been a third victory.
"We just (keep) shooting ourselves in the foot on pit road, and we have to get that cleaned up. It doesn't matter how fast you are if you keep making mistakes," Harvick said.
Now Johnson - who started from the pole - doesn't need to be concerned at all. Not only does he have a win, but he's headed to another great track for him – Dover International Speedway – next week.
It looked like Edwards would win the race with 24 laps to go when he inherited the lead thanks to a fuel mileage strategy and seemed headed for his second victory of the season.
But Alex Bowman had a blown tire two laps later, which ruined Edwards' strategy and forced everyone to pit.
Jeff Gordon, Kenseth, Johnson and Martin Truex Jr. stayed out, with Edwards winning the race off pit road. Johnson then was able to catch Kenseth and Gordon for the win.