Jimmy Johnson Claims His Record-Tying Seventh Crown

Ten years after winning his first Sprint Cup title, Jimmie Johnson claimed a record-tying seventh crown on Sunday with a victory in the season-ending Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway. The 41-year-old Hendrick Motorsports driver has matched NASCAR Hall of Famers Dale Earnhardt and Richard Petty with seven championships in NASCAR’s top division. Sunday’s win didn’t come easy for Johnson, who started the race from the rear of the field after forfeiting his Number-14 starting position as the result of an unapproved modification to his Number-48 Chevrolet that was discovered in pre-race inspection.

Johnson stormed past race leader Kyle Larson on the final restart and pulled away from the field over the last three laps to notch his fifth victory of the season – three of which came during the Chase. He beat Larson to the checkered flag by a half-second. Kevin Harvick grabbed third place. Joey Logano, one of the four remaining drivers in title contention entering the weekend, finished fourth with Jamie McMurray completing the top five …

Top-seeded Kyle Busch finished sixth in his bid for back-to-back Sprint Cup championships. Carl Edwards, the other driver in The Championship Four, placed thirty-fourth after crashing late.

Logano Advances To The Championship 4

Joey Logano outraced Kyle Busch and survived an overtime finish to win the Can-Am 500 at Phoenix International Raceway to advance to the Championship 4 at Homestead-Miami Speedway next Sunday. Logano and Busch will join Jimmie Johnson and Carl Edwards in Miami as the four divers that will race for the Sprint Cup Series Championship. Busch, Kyle Larson, Kevin Harvick and Kurt Busch rounded out the top five. Matt Kenseth looked as if he was on his way to Victory Lane and a Championship 4 berth when he spun into the wall after contact from Alex Bowman on the first overtime restart setting up the final battle between Logano and Busch. Bowman had the dominant car leading three times for 194 laps but was shuffled back during the incident with Kenseth on the overtime restart. Bowman would finish a disappointing sixth but showed he is capable of competing at the Sprint Cup level while substituting for the injured Dale Earnhardt Jr. this season. Denny Hamlin saw his hopes of getting to run for a title at Homestead go away when pit strategy to stay out late in the race backfired. A series of caution flags cycled Hamlin back and on older tires he wasn’t able to challenge once he dropped in the field. Kenseth, Hamlin, Harvick and Kurt Busch all failed to advance in the Chase. Bowman, Denny Hamlin, Ryan Blaney, Chase Elliott and Paul Menard completed the top 10 finishers. The race was slowed nine times for fifty-three laps and saw eight lead changes among five drivers.



Jimmie Johnson Returned To Victory Lane

Jimmie Johnson returned to familiar ground on Sunday afternoon – Victory Lane at Charlotte Motor Speedway.  He entered the weekend as the track’s all-time leader with seven Cup Series wins.  He exits with his eighth career victory on the mile-and-a-half North Carolina oval, punching his ticket into the next round of the post-season Chase.  As successful as Johnson has been at C-M-S, his last win there before Sunday came more than two years ago.  Johnson got the best of race leader Matt Kenseth on the day’s final restart and drove away to his third win of the season but first since March 20th at Auto Club Speedway, in the fifth race of the year!  The six-time champion started eleventh and led a race-high 155 laps in notching his seventy-eighth career victory – beating runner-up Kenseth to the checkered flag by a second-and-a-half.  Kasey Kahne finished third, giving Hendrick Motorsports two of the top three spots.  Ryan Newman and Kyle Larson completed the top five … Kevin Harvick started from the pole but led just twelve laps before retiring with engine failure late in the first half of the race.  Harvick wasn’t the only Chase driver finishing near the bottom of the running order in Charlotte.  Denny Hamlin placed thirtieth, also suffering engine failure.  Austin Dillon ran thirty-second, rookie Chase Elliott thirty-third and Joey Logano was thirty-sixth in the forty-car field … Kyle Busch, the Number-1 seed in this year’s Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup, started sixth and finished fourth on Sunday.  He’s third in the post-season standings, nine points behind leader Johnson.

On The Track, Next Stop is Dover International Speedway

On The Track, Next Stop is Dover International Speedway for the third race of the post-season Chase, Sunday’s Citizen Soldier 400.  The Sixteen Challengers are traveling along a path that will ultimately lead to a championship for one with 2,877.58 “Miles-2-Miami” left before Ford Championship Weekend in November.  Four of the sixteen competitors on The Chase Grid will be dropped from title contention before the series heads to Charlotte next week.  Drivers currently occupying positions thirteen through sixteen are Jamie McMurray, Austin Dillon, three-time champion Tony Stewart and rookie Chris Buescher.  Kyle Larson holds the final provisional spot to transfer into the Round of Twelve, five points clear of the cutoff.

Chase Moves To Dover

The 2016 Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup rolls on from New England to the Mid-Atlantic region for Sunday’s Citizen Soldier 400 at Dover International Speedway.  It’s the final race in the opening round.  Four of the sixteen competitors on The Chase Grid will be dropped from title contention before the series heads to Charlotte for the October 8th Bank of America 500.  Drivers currently occupying positions thirteen through sixteen are Jamie McMurray, Austin Dillon, three-time champion Tony Stewart and rookie Chris Buescher.  Kyle Larson holds the final provisional spot to transfer into the Round of Twelve, five points clear of the cutoff … Stewart is the only one of those five drivers with a win on “The Monster Mile.”  In fact, he has three victories there, winning in 2013 and sweeping both races in 2000.  Larson finished second (to Matt Kenseth) in this year’s first stop at Dover back on May 15th.  Buescher was eighteenth, McMurray twenty-first and Dillon placed thirty-third … Martin Truex Junior of Furniture Row Racing and Stewart-Haas Racing’s Kevin Harvick have locked themselves into the twelve-man field for the next round with victories in the two opening races of this year’s post-season Chase.

The Post-Season Chase Continues At The Bad Boy Off Road 300

Next Stop New Hampshire Motor Speedway for the second round of the post-season Chase, Sunday’s Bad Boy Off Road 300.  The Sixteen Challengers are traveling along a path that will ultimately lead to a championship for one with 3,194.98 “Miles-2-Miami” left before Ford Championship Weekend.  A couple high-octane names are running on fumes near the bottom of the Chase standings with just two weeks left before the first four drivers are eliminated.  Three-time Cup Series champion Tony Stewart is twelfth and 2014 champ Kevin Harvick is tied for thirteenth with Kyle Larson after sub-par showings in the post-season opener last weekend at Chicagoland Speedway.  The good news?  Both Stewart and Harvick are former winners on the one-mile Loudon oval.

Post-Season Doubleheader On Tap In New Hampshire

Fans headed to New Hampshire Motor Speedway for this weekend’s Sprint Cup-Camping World Truck Series twin bill will be treated to a pair of post-season races as the title “Chase” picks up steam for twenty-four drivers.  Martin Truex Junior won the opening race of the Sprint Cup Chase last weekend at Chicagoland Speedway while some familiar faces are at the bottom of the sixteen-driver field with just two weeks left to stave off elimination.  Kevin Harvick, Kyle Larson and rookie Chris Buescher – all race winners during the regular season – hold the last three spots on The Chase Grid … In the Truck Series, eight drivers are poised to embark on the inaugural post-season Chase – with Kyle Busch Motorsports rookie William Byron the top seed.  The title field will be trimmed to six following the third race of the opening round on October 22nd at Talladega Superspeedway.

Denny Hamlin Grabs The Number 3 Seed With Weekend Victory

Denny Hamlin took his final lead of the night with seventy-nine laps remaining Saturday at Richmond International Raceway and kept the Number-11 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota in front through six subsequent restarts, closing the regular season with his third victory of the year and securing the Number-3 seed in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup that opens next weekend at Chicagoland Speedway.  Hamlin’s margin of victory over runner-up Kyle Larson was six-tenths of a second.  Martin Truex Junior led a race-high 193 laps and nabbed third place with Brad Keselowski and Kevin Harvick completing the top five.  Hamlin started from the pole and led 189 laps to give J-G-R a season sweep on the three-quarter-mile Fairgrounds oval.  Carl Edwards was victorious in April but finished thirty-second in his bid for back-to-back wins there … With The Chase Grid now filled, championship points have been reset.  Keselowski and Kyle Busch are tied at the top by virtue of their four victories during the regular season.  Busch gets the Number-1 seed by winning the tiebreaker, which is based on second-place finishes.  He has three, Keselowski one.  With two wins this year, Harvick – the regular-season points leader – holds the Number-4 seed … The four drivers who went into the weekend holding the final four provisional spots in the Chase – Chris Buescher, rookie Chase Elliott, Austin Dillon and Jamie McMurray – came out of the weekend with their post-season tickets punched after finishing among the top twenty-five in the forty-car field.

Newman, Larson Lose Points

Sprint Cup Series drivers Ryan Newman and Kyle Larson have each been penalized with the loss of fifteen championship points after their cars failed post-race laser inspection last weekend at Darlington Raceway.  The infraction is particularly costly to Newman, who’s locked in a battle with Jamie McMurray for the final spot in the Chase with just one race remaining in the regular season.  With the penalty factored in, Newman (winless this year) now trails McMurray by twenty-two points heading into Saturday night’s Federated Auto Parts 400 at Richmond International Raceway.  Richard Childress, owner of Newman’s Number-31 Chevrolet, also was docked fifteen points and crew chief Luke Lambert was fined twenty-five thousand dollars.  Likewise, Chip Ganassi – Larson’s car owner – drew a fifteen-point penalty and crew chief Chad Johnston has been fined $22,500.  Larson is already locked into the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup by virtue of his victory eleven days ago at Michigan International Speedway.  Larson and Newman finished third and eighth, respectively, in Sunday night’s Bojangles’ Southern 500 at Darlington … In addition, five Sprint Cup Series teams were issued written warnings for failing pre-race inspection numerous times.  Carl Edwards and Brad Keselowski were penalized with the loss of fifteen minutes of practice time … In the X-FINITY Series, rookie Ryan Preece’s No. 01 J-D Motorsports team was given a written warning for twice failing pre-race inspection at Darlington … In the Camping World Truck Series, the teams of Tyler Young and eventual race winner John Hunter Nemechek drew written warnings.  Truck trailing arms on their respective vehicles did not meet specifications during opening-day inspection at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park on September 2nd.

Race For The Chase Wraps Up At Richmond International Raceway

With the final weekend of the regular season now looming at Richmond International Raceway, there are three spots still open on The Chase Grid for non-race winners to fill heading into Saturday night’s Federated Auto Parts 400 Sprint Cup Series race.  Thirteen drivers have been victorious in 2016: Kyle Larson, Matt Kenseth, Kyle and Kurt Busch, Carl Edwards, Jimmie Johnson, Brad Keselowski, Joey Logano, Kevin Harvick, Martin Truex Junior, Denny Hamlin, Tony Stewart and Chris Buescher.  All are within the requisite top thirty of the standings, which currently leaves a maximum of three post-season spots available based on the point standings.  Four drivers are in the mix for those final three spots: rookie Chase Elliott, Austin Dillon, Jamie McMurray and Ryan Newman – who trails McMurray by seven points in the fight for the final “playoff” spot … Any driver who hasn’t yet won but reaches Victory Lane at Richmond would qualify for the post-season, provided that driver is among the top thirty in points, and would reduce the number of spots available based on the regular-season standings … With the post-season now right around the corner, the race for the Number-1 seed on The Chase Grid is coming down to a two-man battle between Kyle Busch (Joe Gibbs Racing) and Brad Keselowski (Team Penske).  Each has four victories in 2016.  Busch is a four-time winner in the Sprint Cup Series at R-I-R while Keselowski has one victory there.  They finished second and eleventh, respectively, in this year’s first race at Richmond on April 24th.


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