By: Adam Niemeyer (FOX19 Sports)
Love it or hate it, the two-car drafting packs have made restrictor plate racing at Daytona and Talladega just as exciting as ever.
At least at the finish.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. pushed his teammate, five-time defending Sprint Cup champ Jimmie Johnson to the win over Clint Bowyer and Jeff Gordon by .002 seconds.
It tied the closest finish in NASCAR since electronic scoring was introduced to the Sprint Cup Series. The previous closest finish was at Darlington in the spring of 2003.
"We agreed to work together," Johnson said of his teammate. "He made the decision that my car was faster at the end and the person in the lead gets the win."
Eight cars were separated by .145 seconds at the checkered flag in one of the wildest finishes at NASCAR's largest track.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. finished fourth, Kevin Harvick fifth, and Roush Racing teammates Carl Edwards and Greg Biffle came home sixth and seventh. Mark Martin finished eighth.
"I was more comfortable pushing Jimmie," Earnhardt Jr. said after the race.
It was Johnson's 54th career victory, which ties him with NASCAR Hall of Famer Lee Petty for ninth on the all-time wins list. It was Johnson's first win of the season, making him the seventh winner in eight races this year.
Steve Letarte, Earnhardt Jr.'s crew chief, radioed to his driver after the race, "That's how you do teammates. Both you all won that race. Both you all."
Chad Knaus, Johnson's crew chief, responded, "Thank you Dale."
With the sixth-place finish Edwards maintains his points lead over Johnson by five points. Earnhardt Jr. is third in points, trailing Edwards by 19 points.
NASCAR's big boys will take the Easter weekend off before heading to Richmond for a Saturday night race under the lights on April 30th.