Johnson Moves Onto Homestead Finale And 7th Title Shot

Jimmie Johnson only led 91 laps at Martinsville, but it's the finishing order that matters the most. Beating out a hard charging Brad Keselowski to the line by just a couple of seconds, Johnson picked up his 79th career win and his ninth Martinsville 'clock. On Lap 198, he had a right side tire smoking after contact with the 11 of Denny Hamlin, which took 40 seconds to make repairs on a pit stop on lap 202. He restarted 28th and by lap 293 he was running 10th, and finally took the lead at lap 490. 

Jimmie almost had a costly mistake when he ran out of gas at lap 362, and crew chief Chad Knaus took a few minutes to decide to call him to pit road. Johnson eventually got the car fired up again, blaming the mistake on his own lack of throwing the reserve switch the right way. Had Johnson come down onto pit road when Knaus wanted him to, it would have led to a penalty for coming in when pit road was closed, and he would have suffered the same fate as the 47 of A.J. Allmendinger - he would have had to start at the tail end of the field. 

NASCAR took over 20 minutes to sort out the field for the last restart, saying that they just wanted to "get it right". Alot of the teams thought they should not have gone another lap down, some thought they should have been on the lead lap. That all started when Allmendinger was the leader and slowed down on the track when he ran out of gas, trapping several drivers on pit road. Over 20 cars had to take the wave around, most thinking that they would be at the front of the pack. Kevin Harvick, who should have been scored 2 laps down, was only scored 1 lap down, which did not sit well with some drivers. Managing Director Richard Buck explains (in true NASCAR form), why they made the decision to wait so long to sort out the field and try and put everyone in correct order:

Carl Edwards' chase hopes took a major hit today when he had a flat right tire that sent him into the wall taking heavy contact and sending him behind the wall to the garage for repairs. He is now in a must win situation at either Texas or Phoenix if he hopes to make the final 4. 

He was also one of 4 drivers to receive a speeding penalty on pit road when NASCAR increased the number of timing lines from 7 to 12 from the spring race to this week. Also caught speeding was Denny Hamlin, who picked up his 10th penalty this season. 

Cautions also came out for the 23 of David Ragan blowing up on lap 60 and debris on lap 133 when the 44 of Brian Scott made contact with the wall losing a piece of his rear bumper. Lap 199 was when Johnson and Hamlin connected. After the race Johnson explained that he tries to race everyone as clean as he can, and would expect the same in return. Hamlin had a different side to this story:

Patience and Aggression were how most of the drivers raced eachother today, especially starting at the beginning of the race when Martin Truex and Joey Logano fight for position, as well as A.J. Allmendinger fighting Johnson for 3rd in the first 5 laps. Kyle Larson and Denny Hamlin battled for 9th position a few laps later, and at lap 36 Chase Elliott tried to put a block on Martin Truex Jr, but was unsuccessful. JGR cars were up front battling all day for every position they could get.

Johnson's last win at Martinsville was in 2013, and with today's win at the paperclip, Jimmie ties Jeff Gordon with 9 wins. There were 15 lead changes and a total of 5 cautions.'s Johnathan Merryman recaps todays action.