Ninth Martinsville Win for Johnson
By: Pete Pistone - @PPistone | MRN.com on October 30, 2016 | 4:38 P.M. EST
"I’ve been trying to ignore this conversation about seven, and now I can’t. We’re locked in." (Photo: Getty Images)
Jimmie Johnson won for the ninth time at Martinsville Speedway in Sunday's Goody's Fast Relief 500 and will now run for his seventh championship at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
Johnson came back from a number of challenges including a fuel pressure problem to score the win on and took one step closer to the opportunity to run for a record-tying Sprint Cup Series championship. Johnson will move to Homestead next month as one of the four drivers eligible to win this year’s title.
“Anything you want in life you have to work for it,” Johnson said. “It isn’t going to come easy and we knew that coming into this race and there’s so many challenges at this race track.”
The Hendrick Motorsports driver scored his 79th career win and has the opportunity to tie Richard Petty and Dale Earnhardt Jr. with seven titles next month.
“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, and now I can’t. We’re locked in.”
Brad Keselowski, Denny Hamlin, Matt Kenseth and Kyle Busch rounded out the top five.
Jeff Gordon, Martin Truex Jr., Jamie McMurray, Joey Logano and AJ Allmendinger completed the first 10 finishers.
The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series now moves to Texas Motor Speedway next Sunday for the AAA Texas 500.
Who Had a Good Day: Joe Gibbs Racing was under scrutiny last week at Talladega for employing a strategy to ride around at the back of the pack at Talladega. But it worked as all four Gibbs entries moved on to the Round of 8. The organization had a very good day overall Sunday at Martinsville with Hamlin, Kyle Busch and Kenseth all finishing in the top five…Gordon made what he thinks will be his final NASCAR start in his last fill-in appearance for Dale Earnhardt Jr. and turned in a very impressive sixth-place finish…Allmendinger continued his solid Martinsville performances of late with a strong qualifying effort followed by a top-10 finish.
Who Had a Bad Day: Carl Edwards tops the list after having a cut tire send him into the wall, which severely damaged his car as well as his title hopes. Edwards fell several laps down and when the day ended is now in the basement of the Chase standings…Kurt Busch was not competitive all afternoon and struggled throughout the afternoon. He dropped toward the bottom of the Chase standings as well and is well below the cut-off…Ricky Stenhouse Jr. was forced to a back-up in practice, started at the rear of the field and then was knocked out of the race early when he spun and crashed into the wall to end his day.
What Else Happened: By Martinsville standards, Sunday’s race was on the tame side. There were a number of times when drivers made contact with one another, but for the most part everyone minded their P’s and Q’s. There was controversy in the second half of the race when confusion over scoring broke out during a caution period with several drivers questioning the running order, although it appeared NASCAR did make the right call in lining up the field although many disagreed, including Hamlin.
Quotable: “Jimmie has been doing this ever since two years ago. He really drives like a (blank)…,” Denny Hamlin, expressing frustration with Jimmie Johnson during the race.
Notable: It was the 24th Martinsville win for Hendrick Motorsports…Keselowski matched his career best Martinsville finish of second he set in March of 2015…Gordon’s 38th top-10 finish at Martinsville is the most all time.
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