The 31-year-old from El Cajon led the race four times for 84 laps, including the final 22. His average winning speed was 131.505 mph, slowed by a record-tying 11 caution periods for 43 laps. Finishing behind Johnson and Edwards was Kyle Busch, who gained 10 bonus points for leading the most laps (97), Jeff Burton and Dale Earnhardt Jr. Rounding out the top 10 were Martin Truex Jr., Matt Kenseth, Brian Vickers, Kurt Busch and Kasey Kahne, last year’s winner at this race. But Johnson, who scored his first NASCAR Nextel Cup Series win at this track as a rookie in 2003, wasn’t the only one who could claim some type of victory. To wit: A surprising total of an estimated 72,000 fans braved triple-digit tempetatures to view the race. Close to 1,000 people were medically treated for weather-related issues during the weekend, according to Speedway officials, who also said more than 500,000 bottles of water were sold in a three-day span. Earnhardt, who kept his hopes for making the Chase intact. With a race to go before the field of 12 is set, Earnhardt climbed to within 128 points of 12th-place Kevin Harvick, who dropped from 10th place in the points standings. MOTORSPORTS: Driver rallies to take Aquos 500. Others do well on a great day of racing. By Louis Brewster STAFF WRITER FONTANA – Jimmie Johnson was the biggest winner on Sunday night at the end of the Sharp Aqous 500 at California Speedway, edging Carl Edwards by 1.868 seconds after 250 grueling laps. Kurt Busch, the pole-sitter for the fourth Labor Day Sunday race, continued his string of recent impressive performances. Busch finished ninth and gained a spot in the standings and now trails Clint Bowyer in 10th by just 20 points. The two-mile, D-shaped oval, which has been the center of criticism for boring racing. There were 30 lead changes (which tied the track record) among a record 16 drivers. Ryan Newman finished 39th with mechanical troubles and was the night’s biggest loser as he was eliminated from NASCAR’s postseason. “It was a solid effort,” said Johnson, who passed Hendrick Motorsports teammate Casey Mears with 22 to go. “As the track changed, we made some small changes and it got better and better.” Johnson, winning his first race since May 6, also admitted he lost track of Edwards as the race neared its conclusion. He thought he had a comfortable lead over Kyle Busch, then realized it was Edwards who was chasing him. “With five or six to go, I went back to work,” said Johnson, who increased his career win total to 28. He went to the bottom of the track and started to increase his margin over Edwards. “It was hard to readjust with just five or six to go,” said Johnson, who scored his fifth victory of the season to tie teammate Jeff Gordon. If neither wins next week at Richmond, they will share the top seed in the Chase, a development Johnson found very satisfying. “The season is all about a championship, especially when you get into the Chase,” said Johnson. “We’re fortunate to be in that situation. It’s time for the pressure, to pick up, the hard work to start.” Edwards overcame a pit-road collision with Juan Pablo Montoya early in the race. “It wrecked the car a little bit,” Edwards said. “We fought back from that all day. At the end, it was really fun racing with Kyle. We were running on the fence. One time I looked up and he looked like a dirt late model, he had the right-rear sparking off the fence and standing on the gas. “I wish we could have caught Jimmie, he was fading. For a while I thought I was going to catch him and then we just kind of all evened out and we needed a caution or something.” said Busch, who also won his first Cup race at this track, ended tagging the wall when he went into turn 3 “a little bit too fast.” “I got out of the groove and ending up hitting the wall,” Busch said. “It was a tough day for us there at the end, not being able to run Jimmie down and battle for the win.” Busch said he searched for a groove as the track surface changed from the daytime start to the night finish. “I was all over the place,” said Kyle Busch. “I was kind of searching, trying to find somewhere that I could get some decent lap times.” His older brother, Kurt, left Fontana also in good spirits. “You know there’s a guy behind us now to give is a little bit of a cushion,” he said, referring to his spot in the Chase. “We’re only 20 points out of the next spot, so it’ll be an interesting race in Richmond. “I don’t feel like we’re the guy to beat. There’s plenty of good competition.” Ricky Rudd also left Southern California with a lasting impression. He was involved in a crash on the 179th lap and taken to an area hospital. However, he was treated for a sore wrist and released later in the evening. [email protected] local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!