NASCAR: Jimmie Johnson wins at Martinsville

  • Jimmie Johnson, 2015 Martinsville

One of the most dominant performances this season was cut short as Brad Keselowski lost the race to Jimmie Johnson after leading the race for 312 laps. The 334-lap long race started 2:20PM with Brad Keselowski on pole position, followed by Kevin Harvick, Kyle Busch and Logano. Kyle Larson on fifth and Erik Jones on sixth separated Kurt Busch from the rest of the Chase pack. Carl Edwards was 13th, Martinsville winner Jeff Gordon 18th and Martin Truex Jr. 23rd. In light of previous events, Matt Kenseth was suspended from this race. Keselowski led the grid on the start. On lap 11, Joey Logano had a blown tire and spun, causing the first yellow of the race. The car wasn’t badly damaged, but the spin significantly affected Logano’s plans for the title. The race restarted on lap 18 and Jamie McMurray almost hit the wall. On lap 19, Kevin Harvick took the lead from Keselowski. The second caution came out on lap 26 when Ryan Blaney brushed against the wall. Keselowski returned to the lead after pitting and the race restarted on lap 29. Kevin Harvick who lost spots while in the pits soon returned to the second, but in an unfortunate turn of events, he suffered a blown tire on lap 36, causing a yellow flag.

On lap 42, the race restarted and Kyle Busch became the new leader. but Keselowski immediately retaliated and returned to the top. On lap 48, Dale Jr. made an unscheduled pit stop after cutting his right front tire, but didn’t cause caution. However, the yellow flag came out soon when Tony Stewart got loose and damaged his car by hitting the wall. All race leaders pitted and Keselowski remained in the lead. The green flag went back up on lap 58 and Kyle Busch started attacking Keselowski but race leader managed to pull away. Non-chase driver Kyle Larson was unstoppable and progressed up to second, expanding the gap over the rest of the grid.

A long green flag period was cut with a caution on lap 101 when Kyle Larson had a blown tire and race leaders pitted. Jimmie Johnson went up to third, while Keselowski remained in the lead. On lap 106, the race went back to green. As the race was slowly reaching its halfway point, Kevin Harvick returned to the second place, dropping Johnson to third. Lap 144 saw a battle between Johnson and Dale Jr. in which No 88 made a move and improved to third. Ryan Newman damaged his car and went into the pits, but there was no immediate yellow: it went out on lap 150. Once again, Keselowski exited the pits as the leader with Kevin Harvick, Jimmie Johnson and Dale Jr. behind him. Green flag went up on lap 155. On the next lap, Dale Jr. hit the wall while going 3-wide, but maintained control of his car and resumed racing. However, heavy aerodynamic damage made Dale Jr. fall way back.

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