Johnson Wins Bristol To Go Back To Back

| Managing Editor, RacinToday.com Monday, April 24 2017

Jimmie Johnson won for the second time in 2017 on Monday. (RacinToday file photo by Alan Marler)

By Jim Pedley | Managing Editor

Seven-time champion Jimmie Johnson won his second straight race Monday when he took the checkered flag in Monday’s rain-postponed Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race at Bristol Motor Speedway.

Johnson, who won two weeks ago at Texas Motor Speedway, notched his 82nd career Cup victory. But the win was just his second at the Bristol short track.

“This track has been difficult over the years and we really hit on something Saturday afternoon in that last practice session around the bottom and honestly,” Johnson said, “it’s what I’ve been looking for here for 16 years and we finally figured it out. So, I’m very very happy.”

Finishing second to the Hendrick Motorsports driver was Clint Bowyer of Stewart-Haas Racing. The margin of victory was 1.24 seconds.

The finish was the best for Bowyer since joining SHR after the end of last season. It was a
finish that Bowyer said was good but not great.

“My teammates are awesome,” he said. “It’s so much fun to work with this group each and every week. Hell yeah you want to be up there and win it. But the day we had, I got caught speeding on pit road and had to bounce back. The guys kept working on the car. I appreciate the opportunity that Gene Haas and Tony Stewart gave me.”

Third was Kevin Harvick of Stewart-Haas.

Matt Kenseth and Joey Logano rounded out the top five.

Kyle Larson won the first stage and Martin Truex Jr. the second. Both appeared to be in contention for the victory but both were hit with late-race speeding penalties.

“Yeah, I got that speeding penalty,” Larson, who led the most laps Monday, said. “I was just pushing on pit road and messed up there and had to gamble on two tires, and the balance was okay on two, but I just didn’t have the speed (or), I guess, the grip that the 48 (Johnson) and the 14 (runner-up Bowyer) had to run the bottom.  I knew I couldn’t go down there and get by the 4 (Harvick), so I was trying to maybe set him up, up top, but it was a lot of fun there.”

Larson led the first 202 laps of the 500-lapper. Next to sit up front for an extended stint was Truex, who led 116 laps after Larson lost the lead.

“We were going for it, you know?” Truex said of his speeding ticket. “Wish we could have had a shot there just to see if we could have won. This is the best run we’ve had here in a long time. It’s bittersweet. I wish we could have seen if we could have beat the 48 (Johnson). We were close there before that last caution, but it is what it is, and you try to get what you can get, and sometimes you cross the line, and today we crossed the line.”

Then it was Logano’s turn as he took the lead under the sixth caution of the race and kept it until he was passed by Johnson with 107 laps to go.

Johnson led until yellow flag pitstops with 79 laps to go. On that stop, Denny Hamlin came out of the pits first after taking just two tires.

Hamlin’s lead last 10 laps as he was passed by Johnson with 67 laps to go.

With 39 laps to go, the caution came out again. During pit stops, Harvick stayed out to take the lead. With 21 laps to go Johnson blew past Harvick to retake the lead. Once out front, nobody was able to catch him.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. hit the wall while running 20th on Lap 218.

“I don’t know we broke something in the oil system under caution,” Earnhardt said. “The guys said there was some oil in the pit stall after our pit stop.  I noticed when I was getting lined up double file for the restart the car was smoking.  I just thought maybe we had a tire rub for some reason, but I couldn’t remember what might have caused that. And went into Turn 1 on the restart and the car went straight into the wall with oil all over the tires.

“Came into the garage there and they are working on where the hole in the system is.  Just something is messed up, but that is going to be the finish for us.  It’s unfortunate.  We weren’t running that great, but we were working on our car and trying to figure out how to get it to run better.  And get something out of today, but we are going to have another bad finish.  We have had a lot of them this year.”


Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Race – Food City 500

Bristol Motor Speedway

Bristol, Tennessee

Monday, April 24, 2017

  1. (11) Jimmie Johnson, Chevrolet, 500.
  2. (9) Clint Bowyer, Ford, 500.
  3. (10) Kevin Harvick, Ford, 500.
  4. (22) Matt Kenseth, Toyota, 500.
  5. (5) Joey Logano, Ford, 500.
  6. (1) Kyle Larson, Chevrolet, 500.
  7. (2) Chase Elliott, Chevrolet, 500.
  8. (3) Martin Truex Jr., Toyota, 500.
  9. (19) Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Ford, 500.
  10. (16) Denny Hamlin, Toyota, 500.
  11. (12) Trevor Bayne, Ford, 500.
  12. (8) Jamie McMurray, Chevrolet, 500.
  13. (21) Austin Dillon, Chevrolet, 500.
  14. (13) Ryan Newman, Chevrolet, 500.
  15. (24) Ty Dillon #, Chevrolet, 500.
  16. (26) Paul Menard, Chevrolet, 499.
  17. (14) Erik Jones #, Toyota, 499.
  18. (23) Daniel Suarez #, Toyota, 498.
  19. (32) Matt DiBenedetto, Ford, 498.
  20. (17) Kasey Kahne, Chevrolet, 498.
  21. (31) Cole Whitt, Chevrolet, 498.
  22. (18) Aric Almirola, Ford, 497.
  23. (33) David Ragan, Ford, 497.
  24. (35) * Corey LaJoie #, Toyota, 497.
  25. (15) Kurt Busch, Ford, 494.
  26. (28) Michael McDowell, Chevrolet, 494.
  27. (37) Jeffrey Earnhardt, Chevrolet, 491.
  28. (34) Reed Sorenson, Chevrolet, 490.
  29. (36) Gray Gaulding #, Toyota, 487.
  30. (25) AJ Allmendinger, Chevrolet, 482.
  31. (39) * Derrike Cope, Toyota, 465.
  32. (30) Landon Cassill, Ford, 458.
  33. (6) Ryan Blaney, Ford, 452.
  34. (4) Brad Keselowski, Ford, 433.
  35. (7) Kyle Busch, Toyota, Accident, 383.
  36. (29) Danica Patrick, Ford, Accident, 320.
  37. (38) * Timmy Hill(i), Chevrolet, Suspension, 234.
  38. (20) Dale Earnhardt Jr., Chevrolet, Accident, 218.
  39. (27) Chris Buescher, Chevrolet, Accident, 53.


| Managing Editor, RacinToday.com Monday, April 24 2017
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