Sports Sportsin partnership with NESN your connection to The Boston Globe

Johnson overhauls Stewart

Jimmie Johnson already has his eye on the big prize.

The reigning NASCAR Nextel Cup champion passed Tony Stewart three laps from the end yesterday at Atlanta Motor Speedway and went on to win his second straight race, the Kobalt Tools 500.

"We're thinking championship already," said Johnson. "That's really the mode. You have to think about points and being in the top 12 all the time."

Johnson had the car to beat, leading 132 of the first 238 laps. But the only laps he led the rest of the way in the 325-lap event on Atlanta's 1.5-mile oval were the last three.

The 25th victory of his Cup career moved Johnson within 28 points of current series leader Mark Martin, who plans on skipping next week's race at Bristol and the race the following week at Martinsville.

That would leave Johnson just 20 points behind Hendrick Motorsports teammate Jeff Gordon and 17 behind Jeff Burton going into Bristol, the fifth of the 26 races that will determine the 12 drivers in the Chase for the championship.

"Right now, it's easy to feel good about things and there's no doubt that the championship is what's on our minds," Johnson said. "When you come into the sport, you focus on victories and top 10 and now the Chase is a big mark for the teams to make.

Johnson, who overcame a penalty in the pits at Las Vegas to beat Gordon the previous week, had some problems with tire wear late.

Stewart, a two-time Cup champion, appeared on the way to victory after coming off pit lane ahead of Matt Kenseth and Johnson after the final stops by the leaders during a caution flag on Lap 311.

After the green flag waved with 11 laps to go, Johnson took just three laps to get past Kenseth, then took off after Stewart in the duel of Chevrolets.

Kenseth wound up third, followed by Jeff Burton and heralded rookie Juan Pablo Montoya, who barely held off Clint Bowyer to record his first top 10 and by far his best finish in five Cup starts.

Formula One -- Kimi Raikkonen won in his Ferrari debut, dominating the season-opening Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne for his 10th career victory. Raikkonen started from the pole position and led for almost the entire race to edge two-time defending world champion Fernando Alonso.

Raikkonen joined Ferrari in the offseason to replace retired seven-time world champion Michael Schumacher. Lewis Hamilton, F1's first black driver, finished third.