Jimmie Johnson goes back-to-back with Bristol win

The rain-delayed Food City 500 was worth the wait for Jimmie Johnson at Bristol Motor Speedway on Monday.

Jimmie Johnson goes back-to-back with Bristol win
Race winner Jimmie Johnson, Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet
Race winner Jimmie Johnson, Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet
Race winner Jimmie Johnson, Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet
Race winner Jimmie Johnson, Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet
Jimmie Johnson, Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet takes the win

Johnson led 80 laps en route to his 82nd career Monster Energy Cup win and his second victory at the half-mile track.

“This track has been difficult over the years and we really hit on something Saturday afternoon in that last practice session around the bottom and honestly, it’s what I’ve been looking for here for 16 years and we finally figured it out,” Johnson said. “So, I’m very very happy.”

Clint Bowyer, Kevin Harvick, Matt Kenseth and Joey Logano rounded out the top-five finishers. For Bowyer, it was his best finish since finishing second in the 2013 spring race at Richmond International Raceway. 

Kyle Larson, who led 202 laps — the most in the race and the most for Chip Ganassi Racing at Bristol — finished sixth followed by Chase Elliott, Martin Truex Jr., Ricky Stenhouse Jr., and Denny Hamlin.

“Yeah, it was kind of interesting because when the No. 42 (Kyle Larson) was there, it just created an environment to run the top and I wasn’t as good on the top,” Johnson added. “The No. 42, not being up there and that first couple of cars; the bottom was really where it was at for the short run. This Lowe’s Chevrolet was flying.”

Mid-race action

Landon Cassill skipped the pits and led five laps before the race returned to green for the final segment starting with Lap 260. Denny Hamlin led the remaining lead-lap cars out of the pits followed by Logano, Truex, Johnson, Harvick, McMurray, Larson, Trevor Bayne and Erik Jones.

Truex returned to the lead on the restart followed by Harvick, Larson, Cassill, Hamlin, Bayne, Stenhouse Jr., Logano, Elliott, Johnson, Clint Bowyer and McMurray.

Ten laps into the Stage 3, Truex held the lead with Harvick Larson, Hamlin and Logano  rounding out the top five. Larson passed Harvick for second on Lap 284 but 10 laps later, Logano moved back to second. 

On Lap 293, Brad Keselowski pitted after reporting a vibration — possibly a loose wheel. He pitted, then dropped to 28th, three laps down. By Lap 310, Truex lapped Cassill again. Two circuits later, Keselowski returned to pit road and was forced to take the No. 2 Team Penske Ford behind the wall.

The Front Row Motorsports duo of Cassill and David Ragan made contact — then collected Danica Patrick — to trigger the sixth caution on Lap 320. Truex held the lead followed by Logano, Johnson, Harvick, Larson, Hamlin and Elliott. 

After pit stops, Logano had the lead followed by Truex, Johnson, Larson and Harvick. On the Lap 329 restart, Larson jumped to second behind Logano followed by Truex and Johnson. Four laps later, Truex passed Larson for second. On Lap 335, Erik Jones passed Johnson for fourth. 

Truex had caught Logano on Lap 350 and kept applying the bumper. With Larson working the high line, he was able to pass Truex for second by Lap 365, but Logano had extended his lead by .452-seconds over the No. 42 Chevy. 

Keselowski returned to the track on Lap 378. He was 36th, 68 laps down. He’d finish 34th. 

Jones had passed Truex for third just before Kyle Busch had tire issues for a second time and hit the wall in Turns 3 and 4 to bring out the seventh caution on Lap 384. Logano led the cars into the pits. After service, Logano led the drivers to the green on Lap 390 followed by Larson, Truex, Johnson, Jones, Newman, Kasey Kahne, Harvick, Hamlin and Trevor Bayne.

Johnson asserts himself for the first time

Johnson took the lead for the first time from Logano in Turn 2 on Lap 393. Logano, Kahne, Hamlin and Larson rounded out the top five. Larson took Truex and Kahne five-wide in Turn 2 on Lap 397 to move up to fourth. Logano moved to the inside of Johnson on Lap 411 — and Larson gave the No. 48 the bumper out of Turn 4, however, the seven-time champion held the point. 

Larson moved up to second three laps later and was closing in on Johnson. But on Lap 421, Jones, who was running eighth, cut a tire to bring out the eight caution. Larson received a speeding penalty and dropped to 17th on the restart. Hamlin, who took two tires, took the lead on Lap 423 out of the pits. Johnson was second followed by Truex, Logano, Harvick, Kahne, McMurray and Bowyer. 

Johnson regained the lead on Lap 433 at the stripe. Truex moved up to second on Lap 434 followed by Hamlin, Logano and Harvick. Kahne, who had been running in the top 10, ended up on pit road on Lap 446. He returned to the track, but slowed again in Turn 4 on Lap 462 and collected Paul Menard, who was running ninth. 

The leaders came in for final service on Lap 464 — with the exception of Harvick and Hamlin. Truex, who entered pit road second and came out sixth, received a speeding penalty and dropped to 16th. Harvick led the field to the green and held the point for 14 laps before Johnson passed him for the lead on Lap 479. 

Back-to-back wins nothing new for Johnson

It’s the 11th-time that the seven-time champion scored consecutive victories. Johnson won Race 7 at Texas Motor Speedway. 

“That’s just mind-blowing,” Johnson said. “I wouldn’t be here without Mr. 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. 

“I’m truly humbled. I’m excited to win back-to-back races. I’m excited to win at Bristol. I guess we’ll be at Indy testing for the next two days and we’ll show up at Richmond and try again.”

The race was slowed by nine cautions. There were seven race leaders and 14 changes for the lead. 

The race was slowed by nine cautions for 76 laps. There were seven race leaders and 14 changes for the lead.

Johnson’s advantage over Bowyer was 1.199-seconds. The race was slowed by nine cautions for 76 laps. There were seven race leaders and 14 changes for the lead.

Larson continues to lead the standings with a 27-point advantage over Elliott. Truex, Keselowski and Johnson are tied with 10 playoff points.

The race was slowed by nine cautions for 76 laps. There were seven race leaders and 14 changes for the lead.

Cla#DriverManufacturerLapsTimeLaps Led
1 48 united_states Jimmie Johnson  Chevrolet 500   81
2 14 united_states Clint Bowyer  Ford 500 1.199  
3 4 united_states Kevin Harvick  Ford 500 2.543 14
4 20 united_states Matt Kenseth  Toyota 500 2.726  
5 22 united_states Joey Logano  Ford 500 2.837 72
6 42 united_states Kyle Larson  Chevrolet 500 3.233 202
7 24 united_states Chase Elliott  Chevrolet 500 3.925  
8 78 united_states Martin Truex Jr.  Toyota 500 4.264 116
9 17 united_states Ricky Stenhouse Jr.  Ford 500 4.984  
10 11 united_states Denny Hamlin  Toyota 500 5.243 10

CLICK HERE for complete race results

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