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Johnson donates winnings
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Race winner Jimmie Johnson, who grew up in El Cajon, Calif., just east of San Diego, donated his race winnings to the American Red Cross’ relief efforts for the California wildfires. Johnson’s hometown has been in the epicenter of the fires.

Johnson said he and team owner Rick Hendrick discussed donating his winnings from Sunday’s race earlier in the week, and were able to persuade NASCAR chairman and CEO Brian France and AMS track owner Bruton Smith to match the amount.

"We feel confident that well over a million dollars will be raised and sent out to the Red Cross, and hopefully it will encourage other people to get involved," said Johnson, who collected a check of $349,561 for winning Sunday’s race.

Bowyer not giving up

Second-year driver Clint Bowyer held on to third place in the championships points with a sixth-place finish, but remains a serious underdog to win the Nextel Cup. Bowyer has one career victory, while second-place Johnson has 31 wins in his career and points leader Jeff Gordon has 81.

"What we have to do is keep digging," said Bowyer, who like Gordon salvaged a decent finish from a sub par day to remain 111 points out of first place with three races remaining.

"We can’t give up. We didn’t give up today and we won’t give up. We stayed on the lead lap and we probably shouldn’t have, worked on it as much as we could and came out of here with a decent day."

Stewart’s chase ends

Two-time NASCAR Cup champion Tony Stewart saw his chance for a third championship effectively ended Sunday when he battled mechanical problems throughout the day. Stewart, in fifth place in the Chase for the Nextel Cup, is now 322 points back after a 30th-place finish.

Stewart won last year’s fall race at Atlanta Motor Speedway after failing to make the Chase for the Championship. This year he made the chase but has had disappointing finishes on the track.

A lap 149 unscheduled pit stop under green flag conditions was emblematic of Stewart’s day. Stewart went into the pits thinking his engine was about to blow up, only to discover his oil pressure gauge had malfunctioned.

Stewart made no comment after the race.

Hometown drivers

Peachtree City’s Reed Sorenson, one of only two full-time Georgia drivers in NASCAR Nextel Cup racing, scored his first top-5 at his home track, the beneficiary of a wild shuffle of cars following a lap 316 wreck on a restart.

"To run good in Atlanta means a lot because it’s where I’m from, and it’s always nice to run in your hometown," Sorenson said.

Unadilla’s David Ragan finished 33rd, while part-time driver Bill Elliott of Dawsonville finished 18th in the Wood Brothers Little Debbie Ford.

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