Johnson third, Hendrick teammates round out top 14 at Bristol
BRISTOL, Tenn. – Jimmie Johnson was a continual threat to repeat as the race champion during Sunday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series event at Bristol Motor Speedway. The driver of the No. 48 Lowe’s/KOBALT Tools Chevrolet led a race-high 164 laps and finished the 500-lap event third.
Johnson was leading the race until the caution flag was thrown on Lap 428. The leaders entered pit road to take four-tires and fuel, but the order was shuffled when they left. Kyle Busch, who was running second at the time, was the first leader to leave pit road, while Johnson followed in third behind Carl Edwards. Johnson spent the rest of the race chasing Edwards and Busch. Johnson improved to seventh in the driver standings.
That Lap 429 pit stop also proved critical for Dale Earnhardt Jr., driver of the No. 88 National Guard/AMP Energy Chevrolet. After spending most of the day running in the top 20, Earnhardt was clocked leaving pit road too fast, and he was sent to the tail end of the longest line. Earnhardt reclaimed his position and finished 11th. He now ranks ninth in the driver standings.
With fewer than 65 laps to go, Mark Martin was involved in two, nearly back-to-back incidents that affected the remainder of his day. The driver of the No. 5 GoDaddy.com Chevrolet first was involved in a multi-car accident in Turn 3 on Lap 437. The second incident happened roughly 15 laps later in Turn 4. Martin finished 12th and remains 11th in the standings.
Jeff Gordon, driver of the No. 24 Pepsi MAX Chevrolet, finished 14th after starting seventh and dealing with handling issues during the 500-lap affair. Gordon now ranks 19th in the driver standings.