Jimmie Johnson‘s 79th career win Sunday at Martinsville Speedway is one of the biggest to date.
The win locks Johnson into the Championship 4 at Homestead-Miami Speedway with a shot at a record-tying seventh championship. It will be the first time Johnson has gone into the season finale with a shot at the title since he won his sixth in 2013.
Johnson was eliminated from Chase contention last year in the first round. In 2014, the first year of the current format, he was eliminated in the Round of 12.
“These guys have worked hard, the whole organization has worked hard, we’re really happy for Lowe’s, Chevrolet and for the organization,” car owner Rick Hendrick told NBCSN. “We’ve been so close in a lot of these races. It just feels good. Now we get to go to Texas and we like Texas.”
Sunday was Johnson’s ninth win at Martinsville, which ties him on the all-time wins list there with Jeff Gordon. It was Johnson’s first win at the track since the spring of 2013.
“This place is special,” Hendrick said. “Twelve years ago we lost a lot of our family and friends (in the 2004 plane crash), so we dedicated this one to them. Now we get to go to Texas and have fun, and go on to Homestead.”