Jimmy Johnson Claims His Record-Tying Seventh Crown

Ten years after winning his first Sprint Cup title, Jimmie Johnson claimed a record-tying seventh crown on Sunday with a victory in the season-ending Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway. The 41-year-old Hendrick Motorsports driver has matched NASCAR Hall of Famers Dale Earnhardt and Richard Petty with seven championships in NASCAR’s top division. Sunday’s win didn’t come easy for Johnson, who started the race from the rear of the field after forfeiting his Number-14 starting position as the result of an unapproved modification to his Number-48 Chevrolet that was discovered in pre-race inspection.

Johnson stormed past race leader Kyle Larson on the final restart and pulled away from the field over the last three laps to notch his fifth victory of the season – three of which came during the Chase. He beat Larson to the checkered flag by a half-second. Kevin Harvick grabbed third place. Joey Logano, one of the four remaining drivers in title contention entering the weekend, finished fourth with Jamie McMurray completing the top five …

Top-seeded Kyle Busch finished sixth in his bid for back-to-back Sprint Cup championships. Carl Edwards, the other driver in The Championship Four, placed thirty-fourth after crashing late.

Ford Championship Weekend At Homestead-Miami Speedway

Next stop Ford Championship Weekend At Homestead-Miami Speedway which will feature Sunday’s season-ending Ford EcoBoost 400, where NASCAR will crown its sixty-eighth Cup Series champion. The 2016 Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup concludes with the four-hundred- mile event, in which The Championship Four – Kyle Busch, Carl Edwards, Jimmie Johnson and Joey Logano – will vie for the title that goes to the highest-finishing driver in that group … For Johnson, it’s a chance to win what would be a record-tying seventh Cup Series crown that would match Hall of Fame drivers Dale Earnhardt and Richard Petty.

Johnson entered the post-season as only the Number-8 seed but steered his way into title contention with victories in Charlotte and at Martinsville Speedway … Kyle Busch entered the post-season as the Number-1 seed and is bidding to become the first driver with back-to- back Cup Series titles since Johnson strung five in a row together from 2006 through 2010 … Edwards and Logano are still hunting for their first Cup Series crown.

Edwards has finished second twice, in 2008 and 2011. Logano’s best championship finish is fourth two seasons ago.

Logano Advances To The Championship 4

Joey Logano outraced Kyle Busch and survived an overtime finish to win the Can-Am 500 at Phoenix International Raceway to advance to the Championship 4 at Homestead-Miami Speedway next Sunday. Logano and Busch will join Jimmie Johnson and Carl Edwards in Miami as the four divers that will race for the Sprint Cup Series Championship. Busch, Kyle Larson, Kevin Harvick and Kurt Busch rounded out the top five. Matt Kenseth looked as if he was on his way to Victory Lane and a Championship 4 berth when he spun into the wall after contact from Alex Bowman on the first overtime restart setting up the final battle between Logano and Busch. Bowman had the dominant car leading three times for 194 laps but was shuffled back during the incident with Kenseth on the overtime restart. Bowman would finish a disappointing sixth but showed he is capable of competing at the Sprint Cup level while substituting for the injured Dale Earnhardt Jr. this season. Denny Hamlin saw his hopes of getting to run for a title at Homestead go away when pit strategy to stay out late in the race backfired. A series of caution flags cycled Hamlin back and on older tires he wasn’t able to challenge once he dropped in the field. Kenseth, Hamlin, Harvick and Kurt Busch all failed to advance in the Chase. Bowman, Denny Hamlin, Ryan Blaney, Chase Elliott and Paul Menard completed the top 10 finishers. The race was slowed nine times for fifty-three laps and saw eight lead changes among five drivers.



Post-Season Tripleheader At PIR

There are more than one hundred drivers entered across NASCAR’s three national series for this coming weekend’s tripleheader at Phoenix International Raceway.  At this point of the post-season, just three are certain they’ll be racing for a championship the following weekend in Miami.  In the Sprint Cup Series, Carl Edwards and Jimmie Johnson have advanced by virtue of victories in the semifinal round of the Chase.  Six drivers remain in contention for the final two spots, with Kevin Harvick and Kurt Busch – both former champions – likely facing a must-win situation to move on.  In the inaugural Truck Series Chase, Johnny Sauter has swept the first two races in the Round of Six and will seek his first championship next week in Miami.  Five drivers are left to battle for the three other spots.  And in the X-FINITY Series, six drivers are currently in the mix for a berth in The Championship Four that will head to South Florida for the November 19th season finale.

Next Up: Phoenix Int’l Raceway

The 2016 Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup moves from Texas to Arizona, with the final race in the Round of Eight coming up Sunday at Phoenix International Raceway.  The eight-driver field will be trimmed to four following the Can-Am 500.  Chase participants have won this race in ten of the twelve years it’s been run as part of NASCAR’s “post-season” format.  The only non-Chase competitors to win the fall race at P-I-R during that stretch are Kyle Busch in 2005 and Kasey Kahne in 2011.

► Seven of the eight drivers remaining in the semifinal round of the Chase have won a Cup Series race at Phoenix International Raceway: Kurt and Kyle Busch, Carl Edwards, Denny Hamlin, Kevin Harvick, Jimmie Johnson and Matt Kenseth.  Joey Logano’s best finish there is third on two occasions, most recently in this race last year … Dating back to November 2012, Harvick has won six of the last eight races contested at P-I-R – including this year’s first stop on March 13th … So far this fall, all eight post-season races have been won by drivers on the original Chase Grid.  The best finish by a non-Chase competitor is Brian Scott’s runner-up effort at Talladega Superspeedway sixteen days ago, when he finished second to Logano.

Harvick Return To Glory

For 2014 Sprint Cup Series champion Kevin Harvick, this year’s post-season has been an up-and-down experience.  Sunday afternoon at Kansas Speedway, Harvick was “UP” … charging past race leader Carl Edwards on the day’s final restart and driving off to victory – securing one of the eight spots in the next round of the 2016 Chase.  Harvick opened the post-season with a twentieth-place finish last month at Chicagoland Speedway, followed by a victory in New Hampshire.  But then, he was slowed by finishes of thirty-seventh and thirty-eighth before Sunday’s return to glory.  Harvick now joins Jimmie Johnson as the only two drivers with guaranteed spots in the Round of Eight that opens in two weeks at Martinsville Speedway.  Sunday’s margin of victory over runner-up Edwards was one-point-one seconds.  Joey Logano … gunning for his second straight victory in the track’s fall Cup Series race … ran third.  Johnson, last week’s winner in Charlotte, placed fourth.  Kyle Busch, this year’s Number-1 seed in the post-season Chase, completed the top five in his bid for a season sweep on the Kansas City oval, having won there in early May … Pole sitter Matt Kenseth led a race-high 116 laps and finished ninth … Sunday’s race included sixteen lead changes among ten drivers … There were eight cautions for thirty-eight laps … With the 2016 Chase now at its halfway point, three different drivers have won the first five races.  Harvick and Martin Truex Junior have two victories apiece with one for Johnson.

Post-Season Chase Hits The Halfway Mark Sunday

Next Stop Kansas Speedway as the post-season Chase hits the halfway mark with Sunday’s Hollywood Casino 400.  The twelve remaining title contenders are traveling along a path that will ultimately lead to a championship for one with 1,976.58 “Miles-2-Miami” left before Ford Championship Weekend in November.  Chase drivers have won the fall race at Kansas Speedway eight straight years.  The last non-title contender to win there was Greg Biffle in 2007.  Among full-time Sprint Cup Series drivers, Jimmie Johnson – the Number-8 seed who’s coming off a victory last weekend in Charlotte – tops Kansas Speedway’s win list with three victories, most recently in May 2015 … Entering this weekend, fourth-seeded Kevin Harvick finds himself last in post-season points.  If he doesn’t win one of the next two races or climb in the standings, Harvick’s title hopes will end in nine days.  He’s currently eight points below the eighth-place cutoff … Martin Truex Junior, the Number-6 seed entering the post-season, has won two of the four Chase races run so far and will be making his four hundredth Cup Series start on Sunday.

The Chase Moves To Kansas Speedway

The 2016 Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup rolls on from North Carolina to the Midwest for Sunday afternoon’s Hollywood Casino 400 at Kansas Speedway.  It’s the second race in the Round of Twelve, which opened this past weekend with Jimmie Johnson’s victory at Charlotte Motor Speedway that guaranteed the Hendrick Motorsports driver a spot in the eight-man semifinal round that opens October 30th at Martinsville Speedway … Chase drivers have won the fall race at Kansas Speedway eight straight years and nine of the twelve years the post-season format has been in place.  The three non-title contenders who have won there are Joe Nemechek in 2004, Tony Stewart in 2006 and Greg Biffle in 2007 … Among full-time Sprint Cup Series drivers, Johnson – the Number-8 seed – tops Kansas Speedway’s win list with three victories, most recently in May 2015 … Three different manufacturers have won the last three Cup Series races at Kansas: Toyota (Kyle Busch), Ford (Joey Logano) and Chevrolet (Johnson).

Jimmie Johnson Returned To Victory Lane

Jimmie Johnson returned to familiar ground on Sunday afternoon – Victory Lane at Charlotte Motor Speedway.  He entered the weekend as the track’s all-time leader with seven Cup Series wins.  He exits with his eighth career victory on the mile-and-a-half North Carolina oval, punching his ticket into the next round of the post-season Chase.  As successful as Johnson has been at C-M-S, his last win there before Sunday came more than two years ago.  Johnson got the best of race leader Matt Kenseth on the day’s final restart and drove away to his third win of the season but first since March 20th at Auto Club Speedway, in the fifth race of the year!  The six-time champion started eleventh and led a race-high 155 laps in notching his seventy-eighth career victory – beating runner-up Kenseth to the checkered flag by a second-and-a-half.  Kasey Kahne finished third, giving Hendrick Motorsports two of the top three spots.  Ryan Newman and Kyle Larson completed the top five … Kevin Harvick started from the pole but led just twelve laps before retiring with engine failure late in the first half of the race.  Harvick wasn’t the only Chase driver finishing near the bottom of the running order in Charlotte.  Denny Hamlin placed thirtieth, also suffering engine failure.  Austin Dillon ran thirty-second, rookie Chase Elliott thirty-third and Joey Logano was thirty-sixth in the forty-car field … Kyle Busch, the Number-1 seed in this year’s Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup, started sixth and finished fourth on Sunday.  He’s third in the post-season standings, nine points behind leader Johnson.

Chase Moving Into Second Round

The 2016 Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup rolls on from Delaware to North Carolina for Saturday night’s Bank of America 500 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.  It’s the opening race in the Round of Twelve, with the remaining drivers on The Chase Grid hoping to avoid elimination when the field is further reduced to eight in three weeks.  All twelve drivers have had their championship points reset to three thousand, and any one of the twelve that wins a race in the next three weeks will automatically advance to the Round of Eight that opens October 30th at Martinsville Speedway … Chase drivers have won the fall race at Charlotte in ten of the twelve years the post-season title format has been in place.  The only two non-chase drivers to win during that stretch are Jamie McMurray in 2010 and Brad Keselowski in 2013 … Kyle Busch, the top seed in this year’s Chase, has never won a points-paying Cup Series race in Charlotte.  He’s been to Victory Lane there a combined fourteen times in the X-FINITY and Camping World Truck Series … Of the drivers still in contention for the 2016 Sprint Cup championship, Jimmie Johnson has the most wins at C-M-S: seven … Martin Truex Junior will roll into Charlotte with a full head of steam, having won two of the three post-season races so far.  And, oh by the way … earlier this season, he won the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway after leading all but eight of the four hundred laps run … Truex entered this year’s Chase as the Number-6 seed but ended the first round Number-1.


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