By Jason Schultz Jimmie Johnson got Rick Hendrick his 200th Sprint Cup Series win Saturday Night at Darlington. Johnson held off battles from Tony Stewart and Denny Hamlin late in the race. A late caution bunched the field up again but Johnson was able to prevail and take the win. This was Johnson’s third win at Darlington. Johnson dominated most of the race and led the most laps.
The first green flag run lasted 172 laps. That run broke the Darlington record for the most laps run under green-flag conditions to start a race. Leaders in that stretch included; 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. Johnson would lead coming to the restart on lap 180. Halfway through the race Kyle Busch would be the leader followed by Johnson and Truex Jr.
On lap 189 Johnson would take the lead from Kyle Busch. Jeff Gordon had his first major issue of the night when got into the wall with a little assistance from Hamlin. Jeff Gordon brought out the next caution, debris from his blown tire were the cause of the yellow flag. Kasey Kahne won the race off pit road and would lineup next to Hamlin who stayed out on the following restart. Kahne would soon over-power Hamlin with Kahne’s fresher tires. After Jeff Gordon blew two more tires, he would go to the garage. Gordon would eventually re-enter the race and finish the race 35th.
The next round of green-flag pit stops began on lap 279. After the round of green-flag 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 who spun out on the front stretch. Around this time in the race fuel was becoming a possible issue for the end of the race, but never became a factor in the race outcome. Under this same caution Tony Stewart was having issues with his clutch, seem to have resolved those issues soon after.
The next caution came out for Regan Smith who spun attempting to get on to pit road. Under the caution Truex Jr. pitted, that move was what 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 brining 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 to bring out the caution.
On the restart with 33 laps to go the top five included Johnson, KyBusch, Hamlin, Stewart and Biffle. Until the caution came out with seven laps to go Johnson and Stewart maintained the same distance between them. The caution with seven to go was for Kurt Busch cutting a tire down after getting into the wall and Busch eventually spun out. When drivers went to checkup Aric Almirola got into the back off Ryan Newman, sending Newman spinning into the backstretch wall and Newman suffered severe damage.
For the second straight week we were going to finish the race under the green-white-checker finish format. They lined up as followed; Johnson, Stewart, KyBusch, Hamlin and Kenseth. Johnson got a great restart and pulled away. Hamlin attempted to catch Johnson but was unable to. Johnson went on to win his first race of the season along with 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. Rick Hendrick commented in an interview with FOX “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 this win would be special for all of Hendrick Motorsports whenever it came.
Next week the Sprint Cup Series will be at Charlotte Motor Speedway for the much-anticipated Sprint All-Star Race.
Here’s the link explaining the Kurt Busch/Newman argument
Results 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|