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SCS: Johnson wins at Martinsville, secures Final 4 spot

(MRN)  Jimmie Johnson’s steady march toward what would be a record-tying seventh Cup Series championship continued Sunday afternoon at Martinsville Speedway. Johnson led just once all day, but he had the Number-48 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet in front when it counted most – leading the final ninety-two laps and beating runner-up Brad Keselowski to the finish by one-point-two seconds. Three Joe Gibbs Racing entries … driven by Denny Hamlin, Matt Kenseth and Kyle Busch … filled out the rest of the top five. Pole sitter Martin Truex Junior finished seventh after leading six times for 147 laps. For two straight rounds of this year’s post-season Chase, Johnson has quickly won a race to guarantee advancement. In this case, Sunday’s win puts him into The Championship Four at Homestead-Miami Speedway – where he’ll race for a title on Sunday, November 20th. With six championships, Johnson is one away from tying Richard Petty and the late Dale Earnhardt for the NASCAR record … With Johnson’s victory, Hendrick Motorsports has now won the last five fall races at Martinsville. Rick Hendrick easily leads all Cup Series teams owners with twenty-four victories on the Virginia half-mile … Kenseth started seventeenth on Sunday and led a race-high 176 laps before settling for fourth place … Busch was victorious at Martinsville earlier this year but led just three laps yesterday en route to his fifth-place finish in a failed bid for the season sweep … Defending race winner Jeff Gordon placed sixth in what is expected to be his final Martinsville start, subbing for Dale Earnhardt Junior.

NASCAR SPRINT CUP SERIES

Top 10 Finishers in the Goody’s Fast Relief 500

DRIVER STARTING POSITION LAPS LED

1. Jimmie Johnson (3) 92

2. Brad Keselowski (19) —

3. Denny Hamlin (8) 48

4. Matt Kenseth (17) 176

5. Kyle Busch (9) 3

6. Jeff Gordon (10) —

7. Martin Truex Jr. (Pole) 147

8. Jamie McMurray (14) —

9. Joey Logano (2) 21

10. A-J Allmendinger (4) 5

RACE NOTES

Chase drivers flexed their muscles in Sunday’s Goody’s Fast Relief 500 at Martinsville Speedway, grabbing four of the five top finishing positions led by race winner Jimmie Johnson. Denny Hamlin ran third with Matt Kenseth fourth and Kyle Busch fifth … Six different drivers have now won the last six Cup Series races at Martinsville: Johnson, Busch, Hamlin, Jeff Gordon, Dale Earnhardt Junior and Kurt Busch … Sunday’s win was the twenty-fourth at Martinsville for team owner Rick Hendrick, easily a track record. His nearest challenger – Richard Petty – has nineteen … Johnson’s nine Martinsville wins have come over thirteen seasons from 2004 through 2016.

* 1. Jimmie Johnson (Hendrick) 4,044 Points

2. Denny Hamlin (Joe Gibbs Racing) 4,039 (-5)

Matt Kenseth (Joe Gibbs Racing) 4,039 (-5)

4. Kyle Busch (Joe Gibbs Racing) 4,037 (-7)

5. Joey Logano (Team Penske) 4,033 (-11)

6. Kevin Harvick (Stewart-Haas) 4,021 (-23)

7. Kurt Busch (Stewart-Haas) 4,019 (-25)

8. Carl Edwards (Joe Gibbs Racing) 4,005 (-39)

* Advanced to Next Round

About Jim Harris

Jim Harris has been WYSH's News & Sports Director since 2000. In addition to reporting local news, he is the play-by-play voice for Clinton High School football, boys' and girls' basketball and baseball. Catch Jim live weekdays beginning at 6:20 am for live local news, sports, weather and traffic plus the Community Bulletin Board, shenanigans with Ron Meredith and more on the Country Club Morning Show on WYSH & WQLA. Jim lives in Clinton with his wife Kelly and daughter Carolina, his mother-in-law and cats Lucius and Oliver.

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