|Jimmie Johnson Celebrates in Darlington Victory Lane
Photo – Getty Images
Jimmie Johnson gets Rick Hendrick his 200th Sprint Cup Series win Saturday Night at Darlington.
Holding off battles from Tony Stewart and Denny Hamlin as a late caution bunched the field up again, it was Johnson prevailing to take the win. This was his third win at Darlington as he dominated most of the race and led the most laps.
The first green flag run lasted 172 laps, breaking Darlington’s record for the most laps run under green-flag conditions to start a race. Leaders in this record-breaking stretch include; Greg Biffle, Kyle Busch, Jimmie Johnson, Kasey Kahne and Landon Cassill. The green-flag run also featured three rounds of green-flag pit stops.
The first caution of the night came out on lap 173 for debris and it was Johnson leading the field coming to the restart on lap 180.
Halfway through the race it was Kyle Busch leading followed by Johnson and Truex Jr. On lap 189 Johnson would take the lead from Kyle Busch and Jeff Gordon had his first major issue of the night when he got into the wall with a little assistance from Hamlin.
Jeff Gordon brought out the next caution with debris from his blown tire as the cause of the yellow flag. Kasey Kahne won the race off pit road, putting him next to Hamlin who did not pit and with fresher tires Kahne quickly over-powered Hamlin.
After Jeff Gordon blew two more tires, he would go to the garage. Gordon eventually re-entered the race finishing in the 35th position.
The next round of green-flag pit stops began on lap 279 and as the round of pit stops ended, Truex Jr. would be the leader.
With just 70 laps to go in the Bojangles’ Southern 500, the caution came out for Bobby Labonte spinning out on the front stretch. Under this same caution, Tony Stewart was having issues with his clutch, but seem to have resolved those issues shortly thereafter. Also, around this time, fuel was becoming a possible concern, but actually never became a factor in the race outcome.
The next caution came out for Regan Smith who spun while attempting to get on to pit road. Under this caution Truex Jr. pitted, a move that likely cost him the race win.
With 55 laps to go, Kyle Busch took the lead from Jimmie Johnson.
On lap 316, Jamie McMurray got loose and slid up into Allmendinger putting them both into the wall and bringing out the caution.
Five laps after the restart, Jimmie Johnson gained the lead from Kyle Busch.
With 37 laps to go, Reed Sorenson spun on the back-stretch bringing out the caution once again. On the restart with 33 laps to go, the top five drivers are Johnson, Kyle Busch, Hamlin, Stewart and Biffle.
Until the caution came out with seven laps to go, Johnson and Stewart maintained the same distance between them. This caution was for Kurt Busch cutting a tire down after getting into the wall and eventually spinning out. When drivers went to check-up, Aric Almirola got into the back of Ryan Newman, sending Newman spinning into the backstretch wall, suffering severe damage.
For the second straight week, the race finishes under the green-white-checker format.
Drivers lined up with Johnson as the leader, followed by Stewart, Kyle Busch, Hamlin and Kenseth. Johnson got a great restart pulling away, while Hamlin’s attempts to catch Johnson were futile. Johnson went on to win his first race of the season and Mr. Hendrick’s 200th Sprint Cup win.
After 16 weeks of trying, one of Hendrick Motorsports cars finally pulled into victory lane to get “Mr. H” number 200. In Rick Hendrick’s comments during an interview with FOX, he said, “I can’t believe we’ve won 200 of these things.”
On a Saturday night in a small town named Darlington in South Carolina, Hendrick Motorsports accomplished a goal few teams will ever achieve, winning 200 Sprint Cup Series races. It took about six and a half months for a Hendrick driver to win, but despite the length of time, this win is special for all of Hendrick Motorsports.
Next week the Sprint Cup Series will be at Charlotte Motor Speedway for the much anticipated Sprint All-Star Race.
Results and Point Standings via Nascar.com
|2||8||11||Denny Hamlin||Toyota||FedEx Express||43/1||368||Running|
|3||17||14||Tony Stewart||Chevrolet||Office Depot / Mobil 1||41/0||368||Running|
|4||5||18||Kyle Busch||Toyota||Wrigley’s Doublemint||41/1||368||Running|
|5||6||56||Martin Truex Jr.||Toyota||NAPA Auto Parts||40/1||368||Running|
|6||19||17||Matt Kenseth||Ford||Best Buy||38/0||368||Running|
|7||7||99||Carl Edwards||Ford||Ford EcoBoost||37/0||368||Running|
|8||3||5||Kasey Kahne||Chevrolet||Farmers Insurance||37/1||368||Running|
|10||21||20||Joey Logano||Toyota||Dollar General||34/0||368||Running|
|11||26||15||Clint Bowyer||Toyota||5-hour Energy||33/0||368||Running|
|12||1||16||Greg Biffle||Ford||3M / O’Reilly Auto Parts||33/1||368||Running|
|13||14||27||Paul Menard||Chevrolet||Turtle Wax / Menards||31/0||368||Running|
|14||9||78||Regan Smith||Chevrolet||Furniture Row / Farm American||30/0||368||Running|
|15||15||2||Brad Keselowski||Dodge||Miller Lite||29/0||368||Running|
|17||24||88||Dale Earnhardt Jr.||Chevrolet||National Guard / Diet Mountain Dew||28/1||368||Running|
|19||13||43||Aric Almirola||Ford||Verifone Sail||25/0||368||Running|
|20||18||55||Mark Martin||Toyota||Aaron’s Dream Machine||24/0||368||Running|
|21||25||51||Kurt Busch||Chevrolet||Phoenix Construction Services||23/0||368||Running|
|23||4||39||Ryan Newman||Chevrolet||Bass Pro Shops / Tracker Boats||22/1||367||Running|
|24||27||42||Juan Montoya||Chevrolet||Target / Kraft||20/0||366||Running|
|25||36||38||David Gilliland||Ford||Taco Bell||19/0||366||Running|
|26||20||83||Landon Cassill||Toyota||Burger King / Dr Pepper||19/1||366||Running|
|28||37||34||David Ragan||Ford||Front Row Motorsports||16/0||364||Running|
|29||22||47||Bobby Labonte||Toyota||Bush’s Baked Beans||15/0||364||Running|
|30||42||32||Reed Sorenson||Ford||Southern Pride Trucking||0||363||Running|
|32||33||173||Travis Kvapil||Toyota||Burger King / Dr Pepper||12/0||362||Running|
|33||16||22||AJ Allmendinger||Dodge||Shell / Pennzoil-AAA||11/0||357||Running|
|34||11||1||Jamie McMurray||Chevrolet||Bass Pro Shops / Allstate||10/0||345||Running|
|35||12||24||Jeff Gordon||Chevrolet||Drive to End Hunger / AARP||9/0||339||Running|
|36||41||93||David Reutimann||Toyota||Burger King / Dr Pepper||8/0||314||Running|
|37||43||249||J.J. Yeley||Toyota||America Israel Racing / JPO Absorbents||7/0||132||Clutch|
|38||39||74||Cole Whitt||Chevrolet||Turn One Racing||0||35||Vibration|
|39||32||30||David Stremme||Toyota||Stock Car Steel and Aluminum||5/0||32||Overheating|
|40||40||87||Joe Nemechek||Toyota||AMFMEnergy.com / Pellet & Wood Stoves||0||27||Power Steering|
|42||29||179||Scott Speed||Ford||Team Kyle / Koma Unwind||2/0||20||Overheating|
|43||30||26||Josh Wise *||Ford||Morristown Driver’s Service||1/0||19||Vibration|