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

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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.

Justin Allgaier, Cole Custer tied at top of Xfinity playoff standings

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Justin Allgaier and Cole Custer are tied for the top spot in the Xfinity playoff standings after the playoff opener at Kentucky Speedway.

Each driver has 2,057 points.

Allgaier finished third after bouncing back from losing a tire on Lap 19 and going two laps down. He was two laps down for 27 laps and one lap down for 30 before getting back on the lead lap.

Custer, who finished fifth, won the first two stages of the race, earning two playoff points in the process.

The top five in points are Allgaier, Custer, Elliott Sadler (-2), Daniel Hemric (-5) and William Byron (-6).

Click here for the points standings.

Results from Xfinity race at Kentucky Speedway

Photo by Jerry Markland/Getty Images
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Tyler Reddick scored his first career NASCAR Xfinity Series win, leading a 1-2 finish for Chip Ganassi Racing on Saturday night at Kentucky Speedway.

Reddick beat teammate Brennan Poole by 14.5 seconds in the playoff opener.

Reddick is the seventh different winner in the last seven series races. He led twice for 66 laps. Reddick had not led any laps until Saturday night.

Playoff contender Justin Allgaier rallied from two laps down after a right front tire went down early in the 200-lap race to finish third. Ryan Preece placed fourth. Rookie Cole Custer, who won both stages, finished fifth.

Click here for race results

Tyler Reddick wins playoff opener at Kentucky for first career Xfinity victory

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Tyler Reddick, a part-time driver for Chip Ganassi Racing, led 66 laps to win the Xfinity Series playoff opener at Kentucky Speedway.

In his rookie year in the series, Reddick earned the win in his 15th start in the No. 42 Chevrolet.

The 21-year-old driver beat teammate Brennan Poole, Justin Allgaier, Ryan Preece and Cole Custer.

“I don’t know if it was necessarily me making a statement, it’s just Chip Ganassi Racing making a statement,” Reddick told NBCSN. “(Crew chief) Mike Shiplett has brought me from ground zero all the way to here. All the guys at Ganassi have gone above and beyond in helping me become a better driver. To be here today is surreal.”

Reddick, who had not led a lap before Saturday night, took the lead for the first time on Lap 126 of the 200-lap race.

Reddick is the fourth Xfinity driver to get his first win this season.

Saturday’s win comes after it was announced on Sept. 14 that Reddick would join JR Motorsports full-time in 2018.

STAGE 1 WINNER: Cole Custer

STAGE 2 WINNER: Cole Custer

MORE: Race results

MORE: Points standings

WHO HAD A GOOD NIGHT: Justin Allgaier bounced back from losing a tire and going two laps down to finish third. He leaves Kentucky tied with Cole Custer at the top of the playoff standings. … Brennan Poole’s runner-up finish is a career-best result in 77 starts … Ryan Preece has finished in the top four in all three of his starts for Joe Gibbs Racing. … Ryan Reed finished 10th, ending an eight-race streak without a top 10.

WHO HAD A BAD NIGHT: Sam Hornish Jr. finished 31st, nine laps down after contact with Brandon Jones on Lap 53 caused him to hit the wall at the exit of Turn 2, forcing him to pit for repairs. … William Byron finished 18th, two laps down after he was forced to pit on Lap 101 for a loose wheel.

NOTABLE: The No. 2 of Ben Kennedy failed rear heights in post-race inspection. … Reddick is the seventh different driver to win in the last seven races this season. … Reddick is the seventh different winner in the last eight races at Kentucky.

QUOTE OF THE NIGHT: “I was about the color of my car (red) there for a little bit.” – Justin Allgaier after finishing third following a rebound from going two laps down early in the race.

NEXT: Drive Sober 200 at Dover International Speedway at 3 p.m. ET on Sept. 30 on NBCSN.

Social Roundup: Sights from first Martinsville night race

Marty Snider
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The wait is over.

Night racing at Martinsville Speedway is now a reality.

After tests and practice sessions, the half-mile track in Virginia hosted the ValleyStar Credit Union 300 and its qualifying races Saturday night for the NASCAR Late Model Series, which was won by Timothy Peters.

In attendance at the race were Joe Gibbs Racing’s Denny Hamlin and Daniel Suarez, as well as NBCSN’s Marty Snider, who watched his son Myatt compete in the race.

Here’s a look at some of the sights and sounds from the historic night for NASCAR’s oldest track.