The start of this years Chase was a disappointing one for Jimmie Johnson. After the first chase race at Chicagoland, he finished 31st. The following week at New Hampshire, he finished 18th. After New Hampshire, he headed into Dover 10th in the chase (his worst career point standing in the chase). Many people were wondering if the 48 team was actually going to win their 6th consecutive Sprint Cup title.
After Dover, Johnson fans breathed a sigh of relief after he finished 2nd at the Monster Mile. He would gain 5 spots (and would head into Kansas 5th in points) in the Chase standings after Dover. Coming into Kansas, the 48 team had high hopes and plenty of confidence with their chances of getting back into title contention. After today, Jimmie Johnson is back in the title hunt, and is closing in on his 6th consecutive title.
Jimmie Johnson held off Kasey Kahne in a green-white-checkered finish and won the Hollywood Casino 400 at Kansas Speedway. The green-white-checkered finish was set up by Jeff Gordon. He brought out the GWC by blowing his motor on lap 265.
Johnson dominated the majority of the race as he led 197 laps, and had a great car all race long. After today, Jimmie Johnson heads into Charlotte 3rd in the chase standings (4 points back), and now the 48 team is the team to beat for the Sprint Cup Series title. Kansas Speedway also marks Jimmie Johnson’s 20th win in the Chase, and Hendrick Motorsports 199th win in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series.
Carl Edwards retains the points lead (heading into Charlotte as he finished 5th. Edwards bounced back after being held a lap down earlier in the race. Brad Kesoloweski brought home a 3rd place finish, and remains in contention for his first Sprint Cup Series title. After Jeff Gordon’s engine blowup, his title chances are slim.
Other notable finishes include: Matt Kenseth (4th), Tony Stewart (15th), Dale Earnhardt Jr (14th), Marcos Ambrose (9th), and Clint Bowyer (7th).
Opinion: Jimmie Johnson really had a perfect day. His car was definitely in the zone all race long, and capped the perfect day off with the win. I knew that after finishing 2nd at Dover, Johnson would have some momentum heading into Kansas. As I mentioned in the Hollywood Casino 400 Preview post, Jimmie Johnson was a great pick to win the race because he has had nothing short of great finishes at Kansas Speedway. He sure didn’t let me down. He now heads into Charlotte as the driver to beat, and has gotten back into the title hunt. Two weeks ago, I didn’t think that Jimmie was going to have a shot at winning his 6th straight title. This week, there is no reason not to believe that Johnson is for real once again.
I was honestly surprised that Carl Edwards bounced back and finished in 5th. He really was struggling in the early stages of the race, but with adjustments and strategy, he managed to finish in the top-5, and go into Charlotte with a very small points lead (1 point over Kevin Harvick). Kevin Harvick is continuing to show that he is a true contender for the Championship. Week in and week out, Kevin Harvick continues to finish well on a consistent basis. I will not be surprised if he takes over the points lead after Charlotte, as he has had some success at the track. He won a fuel-mileage driven Coca Cola 600 back in May.
With a very close points battle between Carl Edwards, Jimmie Johnson, and Kevin Harvick, its going to be a very interesting race next weekend at Charlotte. We’ll just have to find out who prevails going into Talladega.