The last time Jimmie Johnson won a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race, it was 24 races ago in March. To say Johnson wanted to park his No. 48 Lowe’s Chevrolet back in victory lane again is an understatement.
The win at Charlotte Motor Speedway was his third of the year, and the 78th of his career. It was also Johnson’s eighth win at Charlotte.
In a race full of attrition where five of his fellow Chase drivers finished 30th or lower, Johnson led 155 of 334 laps to take the win. Johnson’s win allows him to breathe a sigh of relief for the next two races as the No. 48 team is locked into the next round of the Chase.
Although Johnson dominated the second half of the race, his teammate Chase Elliott, dominated the beginning of the day where he led 103 laps. Elliott ran inside the top-five throughout the day until being involved in a race-changing wreck on Lap 258. Austin Dillon restarted second on only two fresh tires following a caution. Dillon didn’t get going right away on the restart, and was hit in the back by Martin Truex, Jr. Truex turned the No. 3 into the inside wall, and the restart jam-up resulted in the No. 24 being turned hard into the outside wall by Kyle Busch. Dillon wound up finishing 32nd, while Elliott finished 33rd.
Three other Chase drivers suffered catastrophic problems in the race. Denny Hamlin blew an engine with 26 laps to go while he was running second. Hamlin finished 30th. Team Penske driver Joey Logano had two separate tire issues that resulted in heavy damage to the right side of the car. Logano went behind the wall, and finished 36th after his return to the race. Kevin Harvick finished 38th after an engine failure ended his day.
Matt Kenseth finished second at Charlotte after having to start in the rear of the field for unapproved adjustments. Kenseth had to fight back from adversity all day long as he suffered a pit road penalty early in the day, too. Kenseth was in position to contend for the win late in the race, but couldn’t hold Johnson off on a late-race restart.
Three non-Chase drivers rounded out the top-five. Kasey Kahne was third followed by Ryan Newman and newly eliminated Chaser, Kyle Larson.
Kyle Busch, Brad Keselowski, Kurt Busch, Tony Stewart and Jamie McMurray rounded out the top-10.
Carl Edwards finished 12th with Truex, Jr. finishing 13th. Truex had a clutch failure late in the race, which cost him a chance at a win.
With several Chasers having problems throughout the race, the top-seven in points have a big gap over the rest. Denny Hamlin currently sits eighth in points with a three-point buffer in front of Austin Dillon and Chase Elliott. Joey Logano and Kevin Harvick are both six and eight points out, respectively heading into Kansas Speedway.