FONTANA, Calif. -- Jimmie Johnson became the first two-time winner of the 2016 Sprint Cup Series season Sunday, earning a victory in the Auto Club 400 at Auto Club Speedway.
With his 77th career win, Johnson moved past Dale Earnhardt for seventh on the all-time list.
"Man, it's hard to believe," Johnson said. "I grew up out in the desert as a desert rat, having fun and going to the river a little bit and having some fun over there, too. To have those early childhood memories kind of shape me into the racer I am today and to be here in victory lane is pretty awesome."
"Disappointing third, I can tell you that, but two penalties, radio changes, just a lot of mistakes on my part early on and gave ourselves a shot there," Hamlin said. I just -- the 22 (Joey Logano) for the one time he didn't get a good start -- we didn't have that push there and that hurt us. I thought going early in the (restart) zone was probably the thing to do. Hindsight, maybe later, but who knows? Those two (Johnson and Harvick) linked up on the bottom, and there's really nothing we could have done at that point."
Johnson led a total of 25 laps throughout the race. He took the lead for the final time on a restart that followed a caution that sent the race into overtime. Johnson restarted third and pushed Harvick to the lead while taking second for himself. After Harvick and Johnson moved out to the front, Johnson then passed Harvick for the lead and then the win.
"We just had a really good car today with our Jimmy John's Chevrolet," Harvick said. "It would just take us five or six laps to get going. That (final restart) was worst-case scenario for us."
Harvick dominated throughout most the day, leading a total of 142 laps. Holding off charges from Carl Edwards and Martin Truex Jr., Harvick led much of the first half of the race. He got slightly off pit sequence when he gave up the lead to pit because of a vibration on lap 106.
Johnson and Truex both led laps before Harvick retook the lead with 64 laps remaining.
Then Johnson and Edwards both pitted under green just before a yellow flag for debris with 45 laps to go. After everyone else stopped under caution, they restarted on the front row.
"I knew we had a great car, and that caution fell at a bad time the run before," Johnson said. "I just didn't have the tires on the car to race with those guys."
Meanwhile, Harvick restarted sixth on tires just a few laps newer. He got up to fourth on the restart and retook the lead with 34 laps to go.
Tires were an issue for several drivers throughout the race. The most dramatic tire-related problem came on lap 48 when Larson slammed head-on into an inside retaining wall. He was not injured.
"I was going down the backstretch, and I think it was my left-rear tire got cut," Larson said. "It must have ripped the brake line, because I went to push the pedal, and it went straight to the floorboard. I couldn't slow down. It was definitely a hard hit, there, probably one of the harder ones of my career."
While most of the six cautions were tire-related, at least one was not. Danica Patrick spun and hit the wall after contact with Kasey Kahne with 80 laps remaining. Kahne's spotter and crew chief were called to the NASCAR trailer after the race as a result.
"We were on a restart, and I had a run on him, so I went down low," Patrick said. "If you get too close to them, then it will drag you both back. I was going low. I saw him chase me down the track and then the next thing I know, I was getting spun up the track. I was passing him. He was behind me in the right-rear. I don't know what kind of day he was having. I just heaard he was a lap down, actually. I feel bad if he felt like he was put in a position to have to be that desperate a lap down. It's just unfortunate; he must be having a very tough time."
NOTES: Brad Keselowski won the 2015 Auto Club 400. ... Kyle Busch won at Auto Club Speedway in 2013 and 2014 before missing last year's race. ... Jimmie Johnson is the winningest driver at ACS with five. ... Pole sitter Austin Dillon won the NASCAR Xfinity Series race at ACS on Saturday, but he came in 24th place Sunday. Kyle Busch dominated much of the Xfinity race, leading 133 of 150 laps before finishing second. ... Although Dillon won the pole starting spot on Friday, Denny Hamlin set a track record with a 188.511 mph lap in the second of three rounds of qualifying.