Johnson Snaps 24 Race Winless Streak, Advances To Round Of 8

No pit road speeding penalties. No crew members over the wall too soon. And mistake free pit stops. Finally Jimmie Johnson makes it out of the round of 12 - something he has never been able to do since this chase format started. It was also 15 years ago today that Jimmie made his Sprint Cup debut at Charlotte Motor Speedway. 

Johnson had a great restart with 20 laps to go and took the lead away from Matt Kenseth, marking the 8th time he has won at the  mile and a half track. He led 155 laps and avoided the same fate of several chase drivers who experienced tire issues, engines expiring, and mechanical issues, including the 22 of Joey Logano and the 4 of Kevin Harvick, who went behind the wall for what he assumed was a ECM issue due to no power. Both drivers fell below the cut line.

On the previous restart, Johnson and Austin Dillon line up on the front row, with  Johnson getting a push from Denny Hamlin and Dillon got turned around by Martin Tuex Jr, who apologized, saying "I just tried to give him a shove. I just turned him around like a damn idiot" After Dillon was checked and released from the infield care center, he said that the team will have to work hard the next two weeks to get the points back. He also said that he knew the risk of taking just two tires when others took four.

That accident brought out the red flag with 74 laps to go while NASCAR cleaned up the mess from the 12 cars involved - 6 of them chase drivers. Jamie McMurray, Dillon, Greg Biffle, the Busch brothers, Carl Edwards, Ryan Blaney, David Ragan, Chase Elliott, Paul Menard, Truex and Brian Scott were all involved. Hamlin's day ended when his engine blew up with 26 laps to go. 

Alex Bowman, who was driving the 88 car of Dale Earnhardt Jr, cuts down a left tire and collects the 13 of Casey Mears just after the  competition caution at lap 26, which also was where penalties we handed out on pit road for Matt Kenseth, Aric Almirola, Paul Menard and David Ragan, all for too many men going over the wall - something that ended up costing Jimmie the race last week in Dover.

Heading into Kansas next week, 4 drivers must improve their points standings if they hope to make it to Talladega without a must win scenario. Kevin Harvick, Austin Dillon, Chase Elliott and Joey Logano are all below the cut line, with Denny Hamlin teetering on the fence in the 8th spot only positions ahead. Logano has the best chance next week at Kansas with 2 career wins, and 1 at Talladega.