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Stewart, who vaulted back into the thick of the title hunt with a win at Kansas last week, started 20th but steadily moved into the top 10 before being penalized for going too fast while exiting the pits, sending him a lap down. Stewart apologized over the radio to crew chief Darian Grubb before scrambling to fifth.
"We were pretty fortunate to get a couple of breaks when we needed them," Stewart said.
The field would need more than that to catch Johnson, who admitted that he was frustrated by an inability in recent weeks to close out races. He finished ninth last week at Kansas despite having arguably the best car on the track early on.
There were no such troubles this time. He didn't panic when a couple of slow pit stops cost him track position early, letting crew chief Chad Knaus make sure he got the car right.
Once Johnson did, he wasted little time taking control. He led by as much as eight seconds at one point before the cautions bunched up the field.
Montoya brought the car he used at Indianapolis in July, hoping to duplicate the dominance he showed at the Brickyard before giving the victory away with a careless pit road speeding penalty, a mistake that opened the door for Johnson to win.
Johnson needed no such charity on Sunday. He likely won't in the next two races either. He's won at Charlotte and Martinsville a combined 11 times.
"It really boils down to the fact that the tracks in the Chase are my strongest tracks," Johnson said. "Today we did a good job of it, there are still six more times to stub our toes."
Copyright 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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