FONTANA, Calif. -- Jimmie Johnson doesn't wear the colors and the cape of Superman every day.
But to his NASCAR Sprint Cup Series competitors, it must seem that way.
With his car and his firesuit bearing the "S" of the legendary superhero, the six-time Cup Series champion and his Hendrick Motorsports team were at their relentless best on Sunday at Auto Club Speedway.
Johnson was seemingly out of contention for the win with the laps winding down in the Auto Club 400, until a blown tire on Kyle Busch's Toyota triggered the caution and NASCAR's version of overtime.
A rapid four-tire pit stop from the No. 48 crew vaulted Johnson up to third place for the green-white-checkered restart. "Superman" quickly moved from third to first during the overtime, pushing Harvick past Denny Hamlin into the lead before passing Harvick for the win into Turn 3 heading to the white flag.
The Lowe's Chevrolet turned the fastest lap of the race on the 205th and final tour to win with relative ease over Harvick and Joey Logano.
With his second win of the season, the 40-year-old native of El Cajon, California, has won at least two Cup races in every year of his 15-year career, second only to Richard Petty's 18 consecutive multiple-win seasons.
Johnson's 77th career Cup Series race win broke his tie with Dale Earnhardt for seventh place on the all-time list of NASCAR race winners.
"I was telling Jimmie just before that restart, 'Buddy, dig in deep -- go find that cape!' " related crew chief Chad Knaus. "He did.
"I couldn't be prouder," Knaus added. "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."
Almost like a Hollywood blockbuster, Sunday's show at Fontana had a surprise ending that was really no surprise at all.
Harvick dominated, like he has so many times since joining Stewart-Haas Racing in 2014. He led a total of 142 laps and was in front after 200 laps when the checkered flag was scheduled to fall.
But for the second time in as many days, Busch suffered a late tire failure that jumbled up the finish. This time, NASCAR threw the caution, and everyone filed into the pits at the end of regulation.
Johnson had led five times, but after making his final pit stop a couple laps earlier than the competition, he got shuffled back as far as seventh place and was running sixth when he came into the pits at the end of regulation.
He came out third, and from there he took matters into his own hands.
"I don't know where I came in in the pits, but I know I came out way further forward than I did going in," Johnson said. "My guys just crushed the pit stop.
"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."
When the green waved, Harvick got the jump on Hamlin, aided by a push from Johnson, who figured his biggest worry came in the form of Joey Logano starting alongside him. What came next surprised even NASCAR's Superman himself.
"I got a great run off of Turn 2 and I thought, 'Man I've got a shot at this thing!' " Johnson said. "Which I didn't expect to have, because Harvick has been so fast. But I cleared him and kind of got away.
"We saved our best for last for sure."
Demoralizing as it may be for the competition, Johnson said Sunday that his best days may still be yet to come.
At 40, he feels like he's just reaching his peak.
"I feel like physically and mentally I'm the best that I've ever been in my career," he said. "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. There's no guarantees about when you're going to win and have success. I've been very, very fortunate to win 77 of these things, which blows my mind on its own."
Johnson paid tribute to the late Earnhardt from Victory Lane, and perhaps the most meaningful visit during the celebration came from Johnson's friend and Hendrick Motorsports teammate, Dale Earnhardt Jr.
"He is a class act, a great guy," Dale Jr. said of Johnson. "You are going to break a lot of guy's records in this sport if you are Jimmie Johnson winning races like he is.
"Jimmie is going to have quite a few more."
Whether or not he happens to be wearing a cape.