Jimmie Johnson wins second race in a row, captures Food City 500 at Bristol

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Jimmie Johnson made it two consecutive NASCAR Cup wins, capturing Monday’s weather-delayed Food City 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway.

It was the 82nd career victory for the seven-time and defending Cup champion, who won two weeks ago at Texas Motor Speedway.

Johnson is one win from tying Cale Yarborough (83 wins, sixth on NASCAR’s all-time wins list) and two away from Darrell Waltrip and Bobby Allison (tied for fourth with 84 wins each).

“That’s just mind-blowing,” Johnson told Fox Sports. “I wouldn’t be here without (team owner) Mr. (Rick) Hendrick’s support. … It’s been a perfect environment for me.

“(Crew chief) Chad Knaus and this consistent group of guys behind me for all these years has led to the environment to win 82 races, which is just insane. I’m truly humbled, excited to win back-to-back races, excited to win at Bristol, will test the next couple of days at Indianapolis and then try to win again (next weekend) at Richmond.”

It also was just his second victory at Bristol, the previous coming on March 21, 2010.

MORE: Results, stats for Food City 500 at Bristol; Jimmie Johnson scores second consecutive victory

MORE: Dale Earnhardt Jr. drops four spots in the points standings after Bristol crash.

The race originally was scheduled for Sunday but was washed out during a period of 28 consecutive hours of rain in the area.

Clint Bowyer finished second, followed by Kevin Harvick, Matt Kenseth, Joey Logano, Kyle Larson, Chase Elliott, Martin Truex Jr., Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Denny Hamlin.

Truex’s No. 78 Toyota was found with a right-rear lug nut loose in postrace inspection. Truex also had an unsecured lug nut after the race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, resulting in a $10,000 fine for crew chief Cole Pearn.

Larson won Stage 1 and led the most laps in the entire event (202), and Truex won Stage 2.

MORE: Kyle Larson leads all 125 laps to win Stage 1 of Food City 500 at Bristol.

MORE: Truex wins Stage 2 of Food City 500; Earnhardt’s day ends early with wreck.

Among the significant incidents following the first two stages in the final 250-lap sprint to the checkered flag:

* Brad Keselowski’s string of six consecutive top-six finishes came to an end when he took his car to the garage on Lap 313 because of steering problems.

* On Lap 323, David Ragan tried to split the cars of teammate Landon Cassill and Danica Patrick. Ragan hit Patrick’s car, sending both cars into the wall. Patrick’s day was done.

* Kyle Busch once again suffered problems at Bristol, hitting the wall for a second time in the race on Lap 383, ending his day, too. It is Busch’s fourth DNF in his last five starts at Bristol.

* Erik Jones abruptly slowed likely because of a tire problem, and A.J. Allmendinger was unable to avoid the car, causing damage to his right front and Jones’ left front.

* Kasey Kahne slowed with 38 laps to go, and Paul Menard ran into the back of Kahne’s car, sustaining minor damage to both cars.

HOW JOHNSON WON: Even though he made contact with other drivers a couple of times during the race, Johnson did not sustain much damage. He led a total of 81 laps, taking the lead for good on Lap 479 and sailed on to victory lane.

WHO ELSE HAD A GOOD DAY: Clint Bowyer had a season-best second-place finish. It was his first runner-up since April 27, 2013 at Richmond. Bowyer extended his streak of top-11 finishes in his last seven starts. … Matt Kenseth rallied late to finish fourth.

WHO HAD A BAD DAY: Chris Buescher (contact, finished 39th), Dale Earnhardt Jr. (broken oil cooler after wrecking, 38th), Kyle Busch (wreck, 35th) and Danica Patrick (36th) all had early exits. Keselowski suffered mechanical problems that kept him in the garage for 67 laps (finished 34th).

NOTABLE: Johnson paid homage to Alan Kulwicki, doing a reverse victory lap in honor of the 1992 champion, who was killed in a plane crash near Bristol in April 1993. … Johnson averages one race in every seven starts in his Cup career. … Hendrick Motorsports has 11 wins at Bristol and 247 wins overall.

QUOTE OF THE DAY: “There was a wreck, and I was the lucky winner. … It was one thing after another. I had about 30 laps of hope today.” – Danica Patrick, whose day ended early after making contact with David Ragan.

WHAT’S NEXT: Toyota Owners 400, Sunday, April 30, Richmond International Raceway.

Follow @JerryBonkowski

NASCAR on NBC podcast, Ep. 79: Jason Weigandt on Supercross, Monster and Jimmie Johnson

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Motocross journalist and broadcaster Jason Weigandt joined the NASCAR on NBC podcast to discuss the Supercross finale and the start of Outdoor season.

Weigandt, the editor of Racer X online magazine, also discussed how Monster Energy’s new title sponsorship of NASCAR has been perceived in Supercross, which the company has backed since 2008, and why he believes Jimmie Johnson isn’t NASCAR’s most popular driver despite his success.

Weigandt is the play-by-play announcer for the 2017 motocross season, which will be shown on NBCSN as well as on the NBC Sports Gold package (which will offer all motos, qualifiers and practices for the 12-round season as well as on-demand access to the past two seasons).

You can listen to the podcast by clicking on the AudioBoom embed below or download and subscribe to the podcast on Apple Podcasts by clicking here. The free subscription will provide automatic downloads of new episodes to your smartphone.

It also is available on Stitcher by clicking here and also can be found on Google Play, Spotify and a host of other smartphone apps.

 

NASCAR America: 50 States in 50 Shows: North Dakota

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Today’s edition of “50 States in 50 Shows” profiles Nodak Speedway in Minot, North Dakota.

The 3/8-mile dirt track is located 110 miles north of Bismarck and is located on the grounds of the North Dakota State Fair.

Watch the video for the full look Nodak Speedway.

 

NASCAR America: Austin Dillon: Feels good to beat Jimmie Johnson in ‘chess match’

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Following the first win of his NASCAR Cup Series career, Austin Dillon said he was proud of his team for coming out on top in a “chess match” against Jimmie Johnson.

“We’re chasing down what I consider ‘The GOAT’ (Greatest of All Time),” Dillon told NBC Sports’ Dave Burns. “Jimmie’s tied with the best of the best. To beat him in a little chess match there at the end, it feels real good. At a track I’ve seen him win multiple races sitting in the stands.”

Dillon was able to make his last tank of gas stretch 70 laps, two more than Johnson, on his way to winning the Coca-Cola 600.

The win comes at a track Dillon has competed on since the early days of his career.

“I grew up racing in the 1/5-mile here, Bandeleros and Legends cars, to get my first win here, there’s nothing better,” Dillon said.

Watch the video for the full interview and to hear Richard Childress’ thoughts on the win.

Something finally goes right for Erik Jones in first Coca-Cola 600

Photo by Sarah Crabill/Getty Image
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CONCORD, N.C. — For the first time since March, fortune finally bounced in Erik Jones‘ favor.

That was after a piece of debris bounced through his grille.

On Lap 20 of the Coca-Cola 600, debris from a wreck between Chase Elliott and Brad Keselowski littered the frontstretch of Charlotte Motor Speedway.

Jones, running in the top 10, managed to avoid the wreck itself. But the rookie couldn’t avoid whatever caused a football-sized hole in the nose of his No. 77 Toyota.

“You start the day off like that and you’re like, ‘Man, it’s not going to be easy,'” said Jones, who finished a career best seventh. “That kind of hurt us all day, I think. Not a ton. Obviously we had still had a fast car, but it was definitely slowing us down some.”

Competing in the longest race of his career to date, the episode looked like the latest in a series of misfortunes that have plagued the driver, who turns 21 on Tuesday.

Jones entered the race with two DNFs in the last three points races and three DNFs if you counted the previous weekend’s All-Star Race.

Before the All-Star Race, Jones caused three cautions at Kansas Speedway for spins before finishing 22nd. He wrecked out at Talladega in a big crash and the week before that was eliminated at Richmond when the race was five laps old.

Entering the longest race of the year, Jones had just one top-10 finish, eighth at Phoenix.

Following the accident Sunday, Jones restarted 27th. The rest of the night was “smooth” on the way to his best finish in 15 Cup starts.

“I think we had a top-five car,” Jones said. “Kind of missed on a couple of adjustments at the end, got behind on the racecar a little bit. Just kind of fell back at the end.”

By the halfway point at Lap 200 and after a 1 hour and 39 minute rain delay, he was in eighth. During the 400-lap race, his average running spot was 11.8.

“We didn’t have any troubles in the pits,” Jones said. “We didn’t have any troubles on the track (after the Lap 20 accident), we had a pretty good car all night. So it was just nice to have a solid night. I feel like we’re plenty capable of running in the top 10 every week, we just got to keep having days and night like this.”

Jones is now 18th in the points standings and 10 points ahead of fellow rookie Daniel Suarez.

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