JOHNSON MOVES TO SECOND IN PLAYOFF POINTS
Jimmie Johnson ended the race where he started it Saturday night at Daytona International Speedway.
He rolled off the grid in 12th and scored a points-paying third-place Stage 2 finish.
Johnson took the green flag for overtime from the 22nd position and charged forward, nearly cracking the top 10 in just two laps.
Fortunately, Johnson’s 12th-place finish moved him into second place for championship playoff points. He is currently seventh in the regular season points standings.
"It is nice when you are rewarded with good points and important championship points -- points that carry into the bonus rounds with our wins and stage win last week,” Johnson said. “To come back and have the car torn up still in 12th, decent day for us. Excited about that, but really looking forward to the summer stretch. We have some great tracks coming.”
FIGHTING TO THE FRONT
Chase Elliott started Saturday night’s race from the outside pole and spent the race working diligently to stay near the front of the field.
Elliott was running 11th when the race went into overtime.
However, with three laps to go in the race Elliott spun and was scored 22nd.
“We were really fast and made our way up through there on a few occasions,” Elliott said. “But we were just never in the right place at the right time.”
Elliott was not the only teammate who met obstacles while fighting to get to the front.
Kasey Kahne took the green flag from fourth on Saturday night. He finished Stage 1 in 14th and took the Stage 2 green-checkered flag in seventh.
During the final segment of the race Kahne tapped into the speed he needed to take over the lead on Lap 137. He led the race for a total of 11 laps.
Unfortunately, a multi-car incident caused a caution late in the race, in which the No. 5 Unifirst Chevrolet SS was involved. Kahne was forced to make a trip to pit road and took the checkered flag in 18th.
CLOSING A CHAPTER AT DAYTONA
All eyes were on Dale Earnhardt Jr. this weekend as he competed in his final NASCAR Cup Series race at Daytona International Speedway as a full-time driver.
"I just didn't expect all that attention all week,” Earnhardt said. “My phone buzzing all day long with social media going crazy. Everybody talking about this being my last Daytona race. The attention and the reaction from the fans makes me feel great.”
The No. 88 Nationwide Chevrolet SS had the fastest qualifying lap Friday evening, earning Earnhardt the pole for Saturday's race.
However, despite a no-quit effort by his team, Earnhardt’s night at the track ended early when he was caught up in a multi-car incident on Lap 106.
"I wish we had had a good finish tonight if not a win,” Earnhardt said. “We were working up in there and having a good time and being aggressive and wearing out the sides of that race car. It just wasn't meant to be.”
Johnson shared his hopes that this is not the end for Earnhardt at Daytona.
"I have a feeling he will be back,” Johnson said. “He did win a pole here so maybe we can talk him into coming back for The Clash or something. It is hard to believe that it could be coming to an end. He has been a great friend; a great teammate and has done so much for this sport.”