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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Monday, March 1, 2010

Johnson stays on fast track in Las Vegas

Associated Press

Hawaii news photo - The Honolulu Advertiser

Jimmie Johnson

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Hawaii news photo - The Honolulu Advertiser

Hunter Mahan, shown pointing toward fans on No. 16, won the Phoenix Open by one stroke.

PAUL CONNORS | Associated Press

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Another race, another victory for Jimmie Johnson and yet another round of griping about the NASCAR champion's dominance.

Only this time, there was a silver lining for those ready to see someone else hoist the Sprint Cup trophy: his competitors are clearly closing the gap.

Johnson reeled in teammate Jeff Gordon at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, where the four-time defending champion won for the second consecutive week. He needed luck to win last week at California and strategy yesterday at Las Vegas.

Sooner or later, though, he's going to run out of ways to win.

"We don't feel invincible," Johnson said.

Kevin Harvick finished second for the second straight week, then showed signs of the swagger that only Harvick can pull off, and only when he's running well.

"We can run with them, and they know it," said Harvick, the current points leader.

Gordon, who dominated the race only to have to settle for third when his pit strategy backfired, was buoyed by his ability to lead 219 of the 267 laps.

"I think we've got more of what we showed today," he said. "We're going to show a lot more. I think we're just starting to tap into it."

Gordon was out front when Kevin Conway's spin brought out the final caution. Gordon pitted for only two new tires and held the top spot for 17 laps before Johnson scooted past him. Harvick, who also took only two tires, also passed Gordon.

Johnson took four tires on the final pit stop, and went on for his 49rd career victory and fourth at Las Vegas.



Hunter Mahan has been one of the most successful golfers not to win a tournament the past two years.

That's not the case anymore.

Mahan came from four strokes back to win the Phoenix Open by a shot over Rickie Fowler yesterday at Scottsdale, Ariz., in a 1-2 finish for former Oklahoma State players.

"It's just finding a way to win. I just haven't been able to do it," Mahan said.

The 27-year-old Mahan had an eagle and a pair of birdies in a late four-hole span to finish at 16-under 268. Mahan, whose first victory came at the 2007 Travelers Championship, closed with consecutive bogey-free 6-under 65s.

The win was worth $1.08 million.

Fowler, just 21 and a tour rookie, had a final-round 68.


Tennis: Novak Djokovic retained his Dubai Championships title yesterday at Edubai, United Arab Emirates, beating Mikhail Youzhny of Russia, 7-5, 5-7, 6-3, in a rain-delayed final. Djokovic was leading 7-5, 2-0 before rain suspended play Saturday.

• Ernests Gulbis became the first Latvian to win an ATP Tour title when he upset second-seeded Ivo Karlovic of Croatia, 6-2, 6-3, at the Delray Beach (Fla.) International Championships yesterday.

• Alisa Kleybanova won her first WTA title at the Malaysian Open yesterday, beating top-seeded Elena Dementieva, 6-3, 6-2, in an all-Russian final at Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

Golf: Fran Quinn won the Panama Championship for his fourth career Nationwide Tour title, shooting a 1-over 71 for a two-stroke victory over Brian Smock. Quinn had a tournament-record 15-under 265 total at Panama Golf Club.

• Laura Davies won the New Zealand Women's Open, for her 73rd worldwide title, shooting a 4-under 69 for a two-stroke victory over three players. Davies had a 9-under 279 total. Pernilla Lindberg, Marianne Skarpnord and Sarah Kemp tied for second.