Maybe it’s a good thing this weekend, just like last year at Charlotte, ended up getting delayed and moved to a day later due to rain. Although this year it was a lot more rain thanks to Hurricane Matthew.
What ended up happening was a lot of surprising, shocking, and unexpected moments for many that are competing for a title.
It’s the first time since 2007 that in one race, five Chase drivers finished 30th or worse. And all of them are drivers that normally one would expect to see out front at this place.
There’s Kevin Harvick, who suddenly had a loss of power and when the computer got cycled, the diagnosis was a possible loss of oil pressure. Then Joey Logano met the outside wall of Charlotte not once, but twice.
Austin Dillon and Chase Elliott became victims of a multi-car wreck that began with fellow Chase driver Martin Truex Jr. initiated. Then finally, it was Denny Hamlin, who was running second when the engine in his Toyota decided to let go in a different kind of smoke show.
All drivers one would anticipate to be out front instead saw their day end in the garage, and an early, although short, trip to the shop.
Then you have a driver who hasn’t won a race since California when his team decided to add on the Superman cape in victory (his team wore the Superman colors in honor of Batman vs. Superman). But that was 24 races ago, back in March. It’s also his eighth win at Charlotte, but just his third at the track since Charlotte got a repave prior to the 2006 Coca-Cola 600 (excluding victories in the Sprint All-Star Race). His last win came in 2014, and before that it was 2009. Years ago, he was the king of Charlotte, racking off 5 victories in a 6-race span. Back in that time frame, the track was called Lowe’s Motor Speedway, so Johnson literally could call it his “house.”
The sponsor may be gone, but it looks like Johnson was right at home when he came to victory lane. Now, he’s into the Round of 8 for the Chase.
Is title #7 around the corner?
RESULTS: 1-Johnson 2-Kenseth 3-Kahne 4-Newman 5-Larson 6-Kyle Busch 7-Keselowski 8-Kurt Busch 9-Stewart 10-McMurray
NOTABLE FINISHES: 12-Edwards 13-Truex Jr. 30-Hamlin 32-Dillon 33-Elliott 36-Logano 38-Harvick
CAUTIONS: 8 for 51 laps. Laps: 27-30 (Competition caution); 63-70 (#13 and 88 Accident-T3); 118-124 (#22 Accident-T2); 157-161 (#22 Accident-T2); 229-236 (Debris-FS); 254-258 (#47 Accident-T2); 260-265 (#1, 3, 15, 16, 18, 19, 21, 24, 27, 41, 44 and 78 Accident-FS [Red Flag-10 mins, 49 secs.]); 309-316 (Fluid in Turn 4 from #11).
LEAD CHANGES: 17 among 9 drivers. K. Harvick 1-12; C. Elliott # 13-113; J. Logano 114-116; J. Johnson 117-118; D. Hamlin 119; J. Johnson 120-124; D. Hamlin 125-175; J. Johnson 176-213; R. Newman 214; Kyle Busch 215; C. Bowyer 216-217; J. Johnson 218-229; C. Elliott # 230; J. Johnson 231-253; C. Elliott # 254; J. Johnson 255-311; M. Kenseth 312-316; J. Johnson 317-334.
TIME OF RACE: 3 Hrs, 42 Mins, 47 Secs.
AVERAGE SPEED: 134.929 MPH
MARGIN OF VICTORY: 1.474 Seconds
CHASE FOR THE SPRINT CUP: 1. Johnson-3045 (Points)*; 2. Kenseth, -5; 3. Kyle Busch, -9; 4. Keselowski, -11; 5. Kurt Busch, -12; 6. Edwards, -16; 7. Truex Jr, -17; 8. Hamlin, -33; 9. Dillon, -36; 10. Elliott, -36; 11. Logano, -39; 12. Harvick, -41; 13. Larson, -936; 14. Stewart, -939; 15. McMurray, -961; 16. Buescher, -975.
*Advanced into next round of Chase.