Jimmie Johnson wins, advances to final round of Chase


Joe Gibbs Racing teams dominated most of the NASCAR race at Martinsville Speedway, but Jimmie Johnson crashed the party late on to win the Goody's Fast Relief 500.

Johnson's 79th career victory, and fourth of 2016, not only clinched him a spot in the final round of the Chase, it also guarantees at least one of the four JGR Toyota drivers will not advance. The most likely candidate is Carl Edwards, who was running fifth on lap 359 when he had his front right tire go down and hit the wall. He finished 36th.

Johnson's win is his ninth at the Virginia short track, but first since 2013. It certainly didn't seem to be his day midway through the race, when he suffered sheet metal damage racing Denny Hamlin and had to go to pit road for repairs. He returned to the track well back in the pack.

Later, Johnson was running in the top 10 on lap 362 when his car stalled, possibly out of fuel. He got it re-fired, but couldn't come down pit road for fuel because it was closed. Crew chief Chad Knaus even ordered him to pit, which would have resulted in a penalty but would have been better than running out of gas on the track.

But as they debated what to do, Johnson diagnosed the problem and stayed on the track.

So Johnson, who had never advanced to the Round of 8 in the new Chase format, becomes the first driver to earn a spot in the final round.

Brad Keselowski had a nice charge late in the race to finish second behind Johnson. And three of those four Gibbs cars that spent so much of the afternoon running up front finished well. Hamlin, who led 48 laps, finished third, and was followed to the checkered flag by Matt Kenseth (176 laps led) and Kyle Busch (3 laps led).

Fellow Chase driver Joey Logano had a quality finish (ninth), but Kevin Harvick (20th) and Kurt Busch (22nd) gave up a lot of ground.

And yes, that was the veteran Jeff Gordon finishing an impressive sixth in a relief role driving Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s No. 88 Chevrolet