Jimmie Johnson runs away with Martinsville win, advancing to championship race

5 Comments

Jimmie Johnson led the final 92 laps of the Goody’s Fast Relief 500 to capture his ninth career win at Martinsville Speedway, his 79th career win, and clinched one of the four spots in the championship race at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

Johnson took the lead on Lap 409 from Denny Hamlin and wasn’t challenged afterward.

The No. 48 was followed by Brad Keselowski, Hamlin, Matt Kenseth, Kyle Busch, Jeff Gordon, Martin Truex Jr., Jamie McMurray, Joey Logano and AJ Allmendinger.

“Anything you want in life you have to work for it,” Johnson told NBCSN. “It isn’t going to come easy and we knew that coming into this race and there’s so many challenges at this racetrack.”

Johnson’s victory, his fourth of the year, came after he accidently shut off his car during the final caution period, which lasted 29 laps amid confusion over the restart order after the caution came out during green-flag stops.

“This is the right time to start winning races.,” said Johnson, who last won at Martinsville in 2013. “I’ve been trying to ignore this conversation about seven (championships), and now I can’t. We’re locked in.”

This is the first time that Johnson, who has six Sprint Cup titles, has advanced to the championship race in the elimination format.

Johnson’s win ensures that Joe Gibbs Racing won’t put all four of its cars in the Chase championship in Miami.

MORE: Point standings

MORE: Race results

WHO HAD A GOOD DAY: Jeff Gordon finished sixth in likely his last Sprint Cup start. Gordon earned top 10s in his last two starts at Martinsville and Dover … Brad Keselowski earned his first top five in five races … Pole-sitter Martin Truex Jr. led 147 laps before finishing seventh … Kyle Busch earned his fourth top five in the last six races … AJ Allmendinger finished 10th for his third straight top 10 and his eighth of the season.

WHO HAD A BAD DAY: Carl Edwards brought out a caution during green flag stops on Lap 356 after losing a tire and hitting the Turn 1 wall. Edwards finished 36th … NASCAR timing and scoring had a bad day at the office. The Edwards caution came during green-flag stops and confusion over the restart order and free passes caused the caution  to last 29 laps … Ricky Stenhouse Jr. finished last after wrecking on his own in Turn 3 on Lap 21 … Stewart-Haas Racing had an uncommon race with all four of its cars finishing off the lead lap. Kevin Harvick was the team’s highest finisher in 20th, two laps down.

NOTABLE: Gray Gaulding finished 39th, 140 laps down in his first Sprint Cup start … Hendrick Motorsports’ 24 wins at Martinsville is the all-time record for an organization at one track.

Quote of the Day: “We worked so good together we gave the win to the 48 today. That’s how good JGR is.” – Kyle Busch after Joe Gibbs Racing placed three of its cars in the top five.

Next: AAA Texas 500 at Texas Motor Speedway at 2 p.m. ET on Nov. 6 on NBC.

NASCAR America: Ricky Stenhouse Jr. talks Phoenix finish, racing roots

Leave a comment

Ricky Stenhouse Jr. joins NASCAR America to go over his fourth-place finish at Phoenix Raceway.

The Roush Fenway Racing driver also shares his racing origins in Mississippi and the hobbies he and girlfriend Danica Patrick share with each other.

Stenhouse is in his fifth full-time year competing in the NASCAR Cup Series with Roush Fenway Racing.

NASCAR America: 50 States in 50 Shows: Alaska

Leave a comment

NASCAR America continues its journey through the United States with the second chapter in “50 States in 50 Shows.”

Following South Alabama Speedway, the show features Capitol Speedway and Alaska Raceway Park in Alaska.

Owned by Nancy and Wes Wallace, Capitol Speedway is a 3/8th-mile oval and features sprint car racing and demolition derbies.

 

Kevin Harvick crew chief fined, suspended one race for encumbered finish

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Kevin Harvick‘s crew chief, Rodney Childers, has been suspended for one NASCAR Cup Series race and fined $25,000 for an unapproved track bar slider assembly last weekend at Phoenix Raceway.

The penalty, a L1 infraction, results in an encumbered finish. Harvick placed sixth in the Camping World 500.

The No. 4 team has also been docked 10 driver and owner points. Harvick was seventh in the standings after four races. He trailed leader Kyle Larson by 61 points. The loss of points drops Harvick one spot to eighth behind Jamie McMurray.

Harvick has not won a race yet, which would qualify him for the playoffs.

MORE: Brad Keselowski closes crew chief for three races, team docked 35 driver points

 and on Facebook

NASCAR docks Brad Keselowski, Team Penske 35 points; suspends crew chief Paul Wolfe

Leave a comment

NASCAR docked Brad Keselowski 35 points, suspended crew chief Paul Wolfe three races and fined Wolfe $65,000 because Keselowski’s car failed inspection after finishing fifth in last weekend’s race at Phoenix Raceway.

NASCAR also docked the team 35 owner points for the L1 infraction. NASCAR stated that Keselowski’s result is an encumbered finish.

NASCAR cited Keselowski’s car for failing weights and measurements on the laser platform. NASCAR stated in Wednesday’s penalty report that the team failed the rear wheel steer on the Laser Inspection Station. 

MORE: NASCAR suspends crew chief Rodney Childers one race

Team Penske issued a statement Wednesday:

“We have acknowledged the penalties levied against the No. 2 team following last weekend’s Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race at Phoenix International Raceway.  The race cars returned to the race shop today and we are in the process of evaluating the area in question. In the meantime, we have decided Brian Wilson will serve as Brad Keselowski’s crew chief at Auto Club Speedway while we evaluate our approach relative to today’s penalties.”

The penalty drops Keselowski from second in the standings to fourth heading into this weekend’s race at Auto Club Speedway.

The more significant issue is how this could impact Keselowski, who already has a win, in the playoffs.

The top 10 in points before the playoffs begin earn additional points. The points leader earns 15 playoff points. The driver second in the standings earns 10 playoff points, the driver third in the standings earns eight playoff points, the driver fourth in the standings earns seven playoff points. It goes down to the driver 10th in the standings earning one playoff point.

Those playoff points carry through the first three rounds, which is different from last year. Falling behind in the regular season – or losing points because of a penalty – could have ramifications in the playoffs. 

“I think it’s real important to explain why points matter this year,” Keselowski said on Fox Sports 1’s “Race Hub” on Wednesday night. “Last year, you got a win and you locked in and you got to the next round. This year with points, you still lock in with wins. The difference is there’s a huge points bonus for having the most points at the end of the season that carries all the way through the playoffs, and you only get that bonus if you’re one of the best cars and leading up front at the end of the regular season, which requires having a lot of points. Thirty-five points is a pretty big deal, and so is 10 points for Kevin (Harvick) and his team.”

 

 and on Facebook