Jimmy Johnson took the lead from Kevin Harvick with 21 laps to go to capture his second win of the season and the 82nd of his career on Monday at Bristol Motor Speedway. Johnson led 81 laps en route to his second win at Bristol in 31 starts.
“I’m so happy to give everybody at A.O. Smith a good ride on the quarter panel this weekend. We wouldn’t be here without a ton of support from Valvoline, Gatorade, the fans, Lowe’s, and Chevrolet. 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. So, I’m very, very happy.”
Kyle Larson started from the pole by virtue of being atop the point standings after qualifying was rained out on Friday. Larson had the dominant car at the beginning of the race and won Stage 1. Larson still leads the series points standings by 27 over Chase Elliott.
“I don’t know if we had the car to beat. I thought early on in the race before all the rubber got laid down we were really good. In the middle part of the race, I didn’t think we were very good. And then there at the end, I got the top going really good.”
Clint bowyer finished second and captured Ford’s best finish of the day.
“These guys have worked so hard; it’s a fun group, everybody at Haas. My teammates are awesome. It’s so much fun to work with this group each and every week. Hell yeah, you want to be up there and win it. But the day we had, I got caught speeding on pit road and had to bounce back. The guys kept working on the car. I appreciate the opportunity that Gene Haas and Tony Stewart gave me. Mobil 1, Haas Automation and everyone that’s a part of it.”
Martin Truex Jr. fought back to finish eighth after a speeding penalty. Truex was running second when he came down pit road for the final time on Lap 462 of 500. NASCAR said he was speeding on pit road and that sent him back to 16th place.
“This is the best run we’ve had here in a long time. It’s bittersweet, I wish we could have seen if we could have beat the 48 (Jimmie Johnson). We were close there before that last caution, but it is what it is and you try to get what you can get and sometimes you cross the line and today we crossed the line. All in all, it was an awesome day and a lot of fun.”
Joey Logano’s consistency continues as he captured the fifth top-five and seventh top-10 in the first eight races of the season. Logano moves into the fourth position in the series point standings.
“We have another top five, I think that’s four straight. We got some good stage points which we haven’t done all year. I just want to win when we come to this race track.”
Harvick led once for 14 laps and finished third. This was his best finish of the season and his second straight top-four finish.
“I thought our Jimmy Johns Ford was the fastest car, we just needed track position. I think we showed how fast it was there on no tires and kind of able to hold our own. You just never know where you’re going to come out on those restarts. I felt like we had a couple cautions and we were in control of the race with the 11 on two tires and we might have had a chance. A good weekend and we’ll just keep going.”
Dale Earnhardt Jr. starting smoking during a restart and then went into the outside wall.
“I don’t know we broke something in the oil system under caution. The guys said there was some oil in the pit stall after our pit stop. I noticed when I was getting lined up double file for the restart the car was smoking. I just thought maybe we had a tire rub for some reason, but I couldn’t remember what might have caused that. And went into Turn 1 on the restart and the car went straight into the wall with oil all over the tires.”
The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series heads to Richmond International Raceway on Sunday, April 30.