FIVE-TIME TAKES CHAMPIONSHIP LEAD
NASCAR’s most popular driver, Dale Earnhardt Jr., returned to action at Martinsville after missing the previous two races because of a concussion. Earnhardt finished 21st after a spin with eight laps remaining. (photo courtesy: Streeter Lecka, GETTY IMAGES SPORT)
Jimmie Johnson rose to the occasion to collect his seventh NASCAR Sprint Cup career win at Martinsville; and his first in the 10-race Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup. The Chase For The NASCAR Sprint Cup will culminate at Homestead-Miami Speedway Nov. 18. Tickets for this year’s Ford Championship Weekend—Nov. 16-18 at Homestead-Miami Speedway—are on sale NOW. For ticket information, click [HERE] or call (866) 409-RACE.
Johnson led eight times for a race-high 193 laps; and held-off stiff competition on the final restart en route to victory in Race 33 of 36 en route to NASCAR’s series-crowning Ford Championship Weekend at Homestead-Miami Speedway Nov. 16-18. Tickets for Ford Championship Weekend—Nov. 16-18 at Homestead-Miami Speedway—are available now. For ticket information, click [HERE] or call (866) 409-RACE.
This marked Johnson’s 59th career win; giving him a two-point lead in the standings with just three races remaining in his hunt for a sixth career title. Johnson held off Kyle Busch in the closing laps to claim his seventh Martinsville Speedway victory and take over the Chase for the Sprint Cup points lead.
The victory, combined with Brad Keselowski’s sixth place finish, gave Johnson a two-point lead in the championship points race with just two races remaining before Ford Championship Weekend at Homestead-Miami Speedway (Nov. 16-18). Tickets for Ford Championship Weekend—Nov. 16-18 at Homestead-Miami Speedway—are available now. For ticket information, click [HERE] or call (866) 409-RACE.
“I think in order to be the champion, you have to win at the tracks where you are good and we did that today,” Johnson said. “This was a strong performance for the team.”
Johnson took the lead for good on lap 486 passing Keselowski for the lead. Keselowski and Dale Earnhardt Jr. were the only lead-lap drivers who didn’t pit for tires during a late caution period. The gamble didn’t pay off as both were quickly passed by Johnson.
Keselowski, who led the points when the day started, wound up sixth. Earnhardt was involved in a late spin and finished 21st.
It was a solid day for Keselowski, even though he dropped several spots down the stretch. He had a poor qualifying effort and started 32nd, but fought his way back all day.
“This means you can’t count this team out. This team has a tremendous heart,” said Keselowski.
Busch, who is out of the points race, finished second, followed by Kasey Kahne, Aric Almirola and Clint Bowyer.
Denny Hamlin was the big loser of the day. He was third in the points when the green flag flew, but suffered mechanical woes after the halfway point and wound up all the way back in 33rd position. He dropped two spots on the points race.
“It ended in disappointment,” Hamlin said of his day. “We overcame the pit road penalties, things like that. We had a great car. When these things happen, you just got to suck it up and move on.”
Next up for the Sprint Cup Series drivers is Texas on Sunday, November 4 (2:00 p.m. ET, ESPN) — en route to Ford Championship Weekend at Homestead-Miami Speedway (Nov. 16-18). Tickets for Ford Championship Weekend—Nov. 16-18 at Homestead-Miami Speedway—are available now. For ticket information, click [HERE] or call (866) 409-RACE.