Jimmie Johnson wins at Bristol for second-straight victory of 2017

From The Marbles

It’s been a pretty good three weeks for Jimmie Johnson.

Two weeks ago, he won his first race of 2017 at Texas. Then he went to Mexico on the Cup Series’ first off-weekend of the year. And in Monday’s rain delayed race at Bristol he passed Kevin Harvick and pulled away from Clint Bowyer for a second win in as many races.

Johnson wasn’t a factor at the front of the field for nearly the first 400 laps of the 500 lap race. But he stayed in the top 10 and pounced on Joey Logano for the lead shortly after a restart on lap 390.

After Johnson took the lead he didn’t stray far from the front of the field again. He was the first car off pit road with four fresh tires for a restart with 32 laps to go and easily passed Denny Hamlin, and Kyle Larson before swiping the lead from Harvick with 21 laps to go.

“This track’s been difficult over the years but we really hit on something Saturday afternoon,” Johnson said. “And that last practice session we ran the bottom and honestly it’s what I’ve been looking here for 16 years and we finally figured it out.”

[Related: Dale Earnhardt Jr. hits the wall at Bristol]

It’s Johnson’s second win at Bristol in 31 starts and his 82nd win overall. He’s now just one victory shy of Cale Yarborough for the sixth-most wins in Cup Series history and two races shy of tying Bobby Allison and Darrell Waltrip for fourth-most wins at NASCAR’s top level.

When asked about being so close to NASCAR Hall of Famers in the win column, Johnson called it “mind-blowing.” But Johnson’s a surefire Hall of Famer too. And even if he won’t come close to matching Richard Petty’s mark of 200 career wins, he’s the greatest driver in NASCAR history.

Larson had the race’s dominant car, at least for the first 60 percent of it. He lost all of his track position and strategical advantage when he got caught speeding with 77 laps to go. Had Larson been on four fresh tires at the end of the race he might have had something for Johnson. But he also wouldn’t have been as close to the front as he was.

[Related: Quick takeaways from Bristol]

Larson still leads the points standings by 27 over Chase Elliott and 38 over Martin Truex Jr., who also would have been in contention for the win in the final laps if it wasn’t for a late speeding penalty.

Full results:

1. Jimmie Johnson
2. Clint Bowyer
3. Kevin Harvick
4. Matt Kenseth
5. Joey Logano
6. Kyle Larson
7. Chase Elliott
8. Martin Truex Jr.
9. Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
10. Denny Hamlin
11. Trevor Bayne
12. Jamie McMurray
13. Austin Dillon
14. Ryan Newman
15. Ty Dillon
16. Paul Menard
17. Erik Jones
18. Daniel Suarez
19. Matt DiBenedetto
20. Kasey Kahne
21. Cole Whitt
22. Aric Almirola
23. David Ragan
24. Corey LaJoie
25. Kurt Busch
26. Michael McDowell
27. Jeffrey Earnhardt
28. Reed Sorenson
29. Gray Gaulding
30. AJ Allmendinger
31. Derrike Cope
32. Landon Cassill
33. Ryan Blaney
34. Brad Keselowski
35. Kyle Busch
36. Danica Patrick
37. Timmy Hill
38. Dale Earnhardt Jr.
39. Chris Buescher

Jimmie Johnson surged to the front with 106 laps to go at Bristol. (Getty)
Jimmie Johnson surged to the front with 106 laps to go at Bristol. (Getty)

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Nick Bromberg is the editor of Dr. Saturday and From the Marbles on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at nickbromberg@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

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