Look, it’s really pretty simple when you get right down to it: If you’re going to wear the "S" on your chest and the cape on your back, you’d better damn well fly like a superhero.
Sunday at Auto Club Speedway, Southern California native Jimmie Johnson did just that, making a brilliant restart in overtime to pass Kevin Harvick and win the Auto Club 400, Johnson’s sixth victory on his home track and 77th of his remarkable career.
It just so happened that Johnson was carrying a special "Superman" paint scheme and matching driver’s suit. He didn’t wear the cape when he drove, but he did in his post-race interview, and for that he deserves kudos.
And, boy, did he drive the wheels off of his No. 48 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet, turning the fastest lap anyone posted all day on the 205th and final circuit of the 2-mile ACS oval.
"I was telling Jimmie just before that restart, ‘Buddy, dig in deep, go find that cape.’ He did," said Johnson’s crew chief, Chad Knaus. "On that restart he did really well. He got up on the 4 car (Harvick). They pushed past the car on the outside. He was able to drive down to the inside, blow by the 4 car, make it happen."
And that had Knaus beaming.
"I couldn’t be prouder," said the six-time championship crew chief. "Jimmie is obviously an amazing, amazing talent behind the wheel. For him to do what he did today I think speaks volumes about what that man is capable of."
For his part, Johnson said his car was better than it had been all day on the final restart.
"We weren’t the best on the short runs in all the previous restarts, but that restart, those two laps, whatever Chad did with tire pressures and adjustments on that last stop, the car was incredible," said Johnson.
And that’s what it took to win.
"I got a great launch off the bottom of Turn 2," said Johnson. "I was just praying I would hear ‘clear’ as I turned into Turn 3. Eventually I did. At that point I felt pretty good about bringing it home with just one more lap to go."
That he did, becoming the first two-time winner of the season, and a man who looks very much at the top of his game.
"I feel like physically and mentally I’m the best that I’ve ever been in my career," said Johnson. "I’m in a great space and really enjoying going to the race shop, going to the racetrack, working with my team. So I’m in the space I want to be in, which tells me it makes me want to stick around and do this for a lot of years."
And that should have his competition worrying about the man with the cape continuing to drive like a superhero.