The Round of 8 for NASCAR’s Chase for the Sprint Cup got underway Sunday afternoon at Martinsville Speedway, and Jimmie Johnson made a statement at the famed short-track course with his fourth win of the season.
The win catapulted Johnson to the top of the Chase standings. Martinsville Speedway’s Twitter account relayed video of the No. 48 car in Victory Lane:
NASCAR on Twitter posted another angle of Johnson soaking in the win:
Brad Keselowski finished second, while Denny Hamlin, Matt Kenseth and Kyle Busch rounded out the top five.
Here’s a look at the top finishers from Sunday’s race, with complete results available at FoxSports.com:
Goody’s Fast Relief 500 at Martinsville Results
Place Driver Laps Led Time Behind (seconds) 1 Jimmie Johnson 92 —– 2 Brad Keselowski 0 1.291 3 Denny Hamlin 48 5.722 4 Matt Kenseth 176 6.705 5 Kyle Busch 3 7.914 6 Jeff Gordon 0 8.796 7 Martin Truex Jr. 147 9.269 8 Jamie McMurray 0 10.995 9 Joey Logano 21 14.666 10 AJ Allmendinger 5 16.324
And here’s an overview of the updated Chase standings following Johnson’s triumph:
NASCAR Chase for the Sprint Cup Standings (Through Oct. 30)
Place Driver Points +/- 1 Jimmie Johnson 4,044 +1 2 Denny Hamlin 4,039 +4 3 Matt Kenseth 4,039 +1 4 Kyle Busch 4,037 +4 5 Joey Logano 4,033 -4 6 Kevin Harvick 4,021 -3 7 Kurt Busch 4,019 —– 8 Carl Edwards 4,005 -3
All eyes were on Johnson entering Sunday’s race—and for good reason.
The 48 car has historically dominated at Martinsville, and he entered with a pristine track record that trumped those of his competitors. According to CBSSports.com’s Yvonne Jones, he owned an average finish of 7.52 that was buoyed by eight wins in advance of Sunday’s race.
Johnson came into the pivotal Chase race looking to snap a two-year winless streak at Martinsville and lingered in the middle of the pack throughout the early stages. But despite trailing while Kenseth and Martin Truex Jr. dominated the early laps, he crept up the leaderboard steadily and moved into the top five after 375 laps.
Johnson’s ascent continued over the next 30 laps, and he eventually passed Hamlin for first place on Lap 407, according to Joe Gibbs Racing on Twitter.
NASCAR on NBC offered a look at the pivotal moment:
As far as omens go, Sunday’s win is quite a good one for Johnson. He last won at Homestead in 2013, and that year also represented the last time the No. 48 came away with a Sprint Cup title.
With Martinsville a thing of the past, the Chase is down to three races.
Texas Motor Speedway will play host to next weekend’s festivities, and a trip to Phoenix International Raceway the following week will serve as the penultimate race before this year’s champion is crowned at Homestead.
By virtue of Sunday’s win, Johnson clinched a spot in the final four at Homestead, according to USA Today’s Jeff Gluck.
With his ticket punched to the Round of 4 and his stock surging as the season comes to a close, Johnson should be considered the top threat to clinch the Sprint Cup title.