Johnson claims 82nd career victory at Bristol
By Taylor Goins
April 25, 2017
For the second NASCAR Monster Energy Cup Series race in a row, seven time Champion Jimmie Johnson took home the checkered flag.
This time, he had to wait until Monday to do so, after heavy rains washed away any chance of racing on Sunday.
The extra day off was no problem for the 82-time Cup Series winner, as Johnson captured the lead from Kevin Harvick on lap 480 and successfully held off Clint Bowyer to lead the field for the final 20 laps of the event and secure his second win at Bristol Motor Speedway.
“I’m truly humbled,” Johnson said post-race. “I’m excited to win back-to-back races. I’m excited to win at Bristol.”
The victory puts Johnson only one shy of tying NASCAR legend Cale Yarborough for sixth place on the all-time wins list. Johnson took note of the significance of the event, saying “That’s just mind-blowing. I wouldn’t be here without (owner Rick) Hendrick’s support. Thanks to him and to Jeff Gordon for believing in me.
“For Hendrick Motorsports to make this job kind of a family environment for all of us to thrive in has been a perfect environment for me and (crew chief) Chad Knaus and for the consistent group of guys behind me through all these years has led to the environment to win 82 races, or whatever it is, which is just insane.”
Much like the XFINITY race on Saturday, Kyle Larson won the first stage of the race in dominating fashion. He led each of the first stage’s 125 laps and built a strong lead from the drop of the green flag.
Martin Truex Jr. followed behind Larson to capture the runner-up position in the first stage. The first stage was only marred by one incident, when Kurt Busch and Chris Buescher sustained damage in two separate incidents that eventually brought out a red flag.
Kyle Larson again led the first 77 laps of the second stage, until Martin Truex Jr. took the lead from him on lap 203 and led all but one of the stage’s remaining laps en route to a Stage Two victory.
Stage two had more drama, as the No. 18 car of Kyle Busch and the No. 88 of Dale Earnhardt Jr. were both involved in crashes, bringing out the race’s third and fourth caution flags.
The accident was particularly problematic for Earnhardt Jr., as the Hendrick Motorsports driver had to retire his Nationwide Chevrolet and as a result suffered his third DNF in eight races.
The third stage, taken by Food City 500 winner Jimmie Johnson, was by far the most competitive of the race’s three stages, as it featured 11 of the event’s 14 lead changes. The third stage was also the most perilous for the competitors, as there were four cautions for accidents.
Among those affected were Danica Patrick, Landon Cassill, Kurt Busch, Erik Jones, Paul Menard and Kasey Kahne.
Avoiding the melees around the track, Kevin Harvick managed to secure the lead on lap 466 of the 500 lap affair. He held onto the top spot until lap 280, when Jimmie Johnson managed to overtake him for the race’s final lead change.
It was a tense final 20 laps for Johnson, though, as Clint Bowyer charged up to second place. In true form, Johnson avoided making the mistake that Bowyer so desperately needed, and held on to win the race.
Jimmie Johnson, winning his second Cup race in 2017, has now won back-to-back events for the 11th time in his career.
Ty Dillon was the top rookie, finishing 15th.
The points leader following the Food City 500 is Kyle Larson, with Chase Elliott in second, trailing Larson by 27 points.
15 cars finished on the lead lap.
There were nine cautions for 76 laps.
34 cars were running at the conclusion of the race.
The race featured 14 lead changes among seven competitors. The Food City 500 was the first Monday race of the 2017 season.
Daniel Courson/The Racing Experts