Johnson Wins Goody's Fast Relief 500

Jimmie Johnson won the Goody's Fast Relief 500. It was his ninth career Martinsville win.
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Adversity was no deterrent for Jimmie Johnson on Sunday afternoon at Martinsville Speedway.

 

The six-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion won the Goody’s Fast Relief 500, despite a host of potentially Chase-damaging circumstances, to clinch a spot in the Championship 4 at Homestead-Miami Speedway next month. There, he will vie for his historic seventh title, which would place him in a tie with Richard Petty and Dale Earnhardt for the most ever.

 

Several moments in Sunday’s race appeared to spell trouble for the nine-time Martinsville Speedway winner, including contact with Denny Hamlin on Lap 198, and a fuel pressure issue that led to the No. 48 briefly stopping on-track.

 

“I’ve been trying to ignore this conversation about seven [championships], and now I can’t,” Johnson said in victory lane. “I’ll probably lie to all of you guys and say I’m not going to think about it at all. But it’s inevitable. Fortunately, I don’t have to think about it for three weeks. But we’re going to enjoy this and savor it. We’re going to get our ducks in a row for Homestead.”

 

Brad Keselowski, who was eliminated in last week’s Round of 12 cutoff race, finished second. He was followed by Chase participants Denny Hamlin, Matt Kenseth, and Kyle Busch – three of the four Championship-eligible Joe Gibbs Racing entries, who appeared to stall as a group late in the race while trying to chase down Johnson and the lead. Edwards, the fourth JGR car, finished 36th after crashing in Turn 3 on Lap 356.

 

“It was a good day, solid day, but obviously not what we were looking for. Just lost the handle there with about a hundred to go. I think our car fired off slower or ran slower the entire run than what we had all day. Just missed it there a little bit. So that’s what we had, and that’s about all we could muster up there at the end, was a third.”

 

Jeff Gordon, who was battling for his tenth Grandfather clock at Martinsville, finished sixth after showing his mettle with a contending car for most of the day. The Top-10 performance comes one year after his dramatic victory at the historic oval punched another Hendrick Motorsports ticket to Miami and the season finale with a chance at a championship. Earlier in the week, the four-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion spoke about his season filling in for Dale Earnhardt Jr. in the No. 88.

 

“I can promise you I had no intentions of this happening, but here I am. I really don’t think that I will be getting back in a Cup car again, but go ask Rick Hendrick. That really has more to do with him than anything else. I hope in the future that the drivers don’t have a situation like what we had with (Dale Earnhardt) Junior where they need somebody to fill in for them. This little bit of experience has been kind of good for me, good for the organization and we have had a little bit of fun with it as well.”

 

Racing returns to Martinsville Speedway in 2017 with the STP 500 race weekend, March 31-April 2, marking the series’ return to the east coast, after the “west coast swing”, and will be NASCAR’s first short-track race of the season.

 

Tickets are on sale now and can be purchased by calling 877.RACETIX or online at www.martinsvillespeedway.com.

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