Five-time reigning Sprint Cup champion Jimmie Johnson celebrates his… (Chris Graythen / Getty Images )
Jimmie Johnson won the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Aaron's 499 at Talladega Superspeedway on Sunday in Alabama, dipping to the inside and beating Clint Bowyer by 0.002 of a second — matching the closest finish in Sprint Cup history.
Four pairs of cars surged toward the line for a typical Talladega finish, and it took a replay to show that Johnson edged Bowyer by about a foot.
Johnson was pushed across the line by Dale Earnhardt Jr., who finished fourth. Pole-sitter Jeff Gordon, squeezed between Bowyer and Johnson and pushed by Mark Martin, settled for third.
Kevin Harvick, who was Bowyer's pusher, wound up fifth. Carl Edwards almost got into the mix as well, going right up against the outside wall, but did not have enough room to pull it off.
McLaren driver Lewis Hamilton overcame a prerace mechanical problem to win Formula One's Chinese Grand Prix at Shanghai, passing Red Bull's Sebastian Vettel for the lead with five laps remaining. Vettel made a strong bid for three consecutive wins to start the season but could not hold off Hamilton, who made one more pit stop than the German and had fresher tires at the end. A fuel leak was discovered in Hamilton's engine before the race, but McLaren mechanics worked furiously to complete the repairs.
Del Worsham edged teammate Larry Dixon by 0.0048 of a second — about 6 inches — in the top fuel final in the NHRA Four-Wide Nationals at Concord, N.C. Jack Beckman (funny car) and Greg Anderson (pro stock) also won their divisions at the event, which featured racing in four lanes instead of the traditional two.
U.S. falls out of World Group
The United States, a record 17-time Fed Cup champion, was relegated from the top-tier World Group after it failed to win a single point in a 5-0 loss to host Germany at Stuttgart.
Germany's decisive win came when Andrea Petkovic beat Melanie Oudin, 6-2, 6-3, in the first of the reverse singles matches for an insurmountable 3-0 lead in the best-of-five semifinal series. Germany won the last singles match when Sabine Lisicki beat Christina McHale, 6-3, 6-4, and Julia Goerges and Anna-Lena Groenefeld completed the sweep with a 3-6, 6-3, 6-1 victory over Vania King and Liezel Huber in the doubles.
Rafael Nadal won his seventh Monte Carlo Masters title in a row, beating David Ferrer, 6-4, 7-5, at Monaco in an all-Spanish final. It was Nadal's first tournament victory since October, ending a run of three consecutive defeats in title matches.
Steele wins Texas Open
PGA Tour rookie Brendan Steele shot a one-under-par 71, overcoming relentless wind and fellow prospect Kevin Chappell to win the Texas Open at San Antonio. Steele, 28, led by one stroke heading into the final round. He stayed steady throughout the day and finished at eight-under 280, one stroke ahead of Chappell (70) and Charley Hoffman (68).
John Cook birdied a playoff hole to win the Outback Steahouse Pro-Am, edging Jay Don Blake at Lutz, Fla. Cook, who was tied with Blake at nine under for the tournament, picked up his second Champions Tour win this season.
Italian teenager Matteo Manassero shot a 4-under 68, earning a one-stroke victory in the Malaysian Open at Kuala Lumpur. Manassero finished at 16-under 272 two days before his 18th birthday. Gregory Bourdy (67) was second and Rory McIlroy (69) was third, two shots back.
Emmanuel Mutai ran the fastest London Marathon in history, and Kenyans swept the first three places in the men's race. Mutai finished in 2 hours 4 minutes 40 seconds, the fourth-fastest marathon time ever. Mutai broke away at the 21-mile mark and shattered Olympic champion Sammy Wanjiru's course record of 2:05:10 from 2009.
Three-time champion Martin Lel was second in 2:05:45 after beating Patrick Makau in a sprint in front of Buckingham Palace.
Kenya's Mary Keitany dominated the women's field, finishing in 2:19:19 in her London debut. That time is the fourth-fastest run by a woman in the marathon. She was almost a minute ahead of defending champion Liliya Shobukhova of Russia.
UCLA freshman Sam Peszak won the title in the balance beam in the NCAA women's gymnastics championships at Cleveland, denying the Southeastern Conference a sweep of the individual events. Alabama junior Geralen Stack-Eaton won the floor exercise, Florida sophomore Marissa King took the vault and Georgia sophomore Kat Ding won the uneven bars.
Stoke routed Bolton, 5-0, at Wembley, England, and reached the FA Cup final for the first time in the soccer team's 148-year history. It was the most lopsided victory in an FA Cup semifinal since 1939, when Wolverhampton beat Grimsby by the same score. Stoke, the Premier League's oldest club, will play Manchester City for the title at Wembley on May 14. Man City defeated Manchester United, 1-0, Saturday in the other semifinal.
Oxnard's Victor Ortiz upset Andre Berto in a WBC welterweight title fight Saturday night at Ledyard, Conn., winning a unanimous decision despite having a point taken away for hitting behind the head. The judges scored it 114-112, 114-111 and 115-110 for Ortiz (29-2-2). Berto (27-1) was nearly knocked out in the first round by Ortiz, who came out firing combinations from the bell and stunned the champion with a right hand followed by a left hook that put him on the canvas.