CONCORD, N.C. — Jimmie Johnson is back.
Johnson snapped a career-long 24-race winless streak at the ideal time, winning Sunday’s Bank of America 500 at Charlotte Motor Speedway to give himself a bye into the third round of the Chase for the Sprint Cup.
Johnson took advantage of misfortune which affected several Chase contenders and went to victory lane at Charlotte for his eighth career victory at Hendrick Motorsports’ home track — and his first since 2014.
This is the first time Johnson has advanced to the third round since the new Chase format was implemented in 2014. It’s also Johnson’s first win since the March race at Auto Club Speedway in Southern California and the 78th of his career in NASCAR's premier series.
In addition to the winner, the rest of the race was also eventful for several Chase drivers.
Kevin Harvick finished 38th after an engine problem and Joey Logano 36th after he hit the wall — twice — with tire problems.
Then there was a major crash on a restart with 76 laps to go, which was triggered when Chase favorite Martin Truex Jr. bumped Austin Dillon and inadvertently sent him spinning (Dillon had just taken two tires to gain track position). Behind that wreck, Chase Elliott hit his brakes and Kyle Busch hit him, turning him in front of the pack.
Dillon and Elliott’s cars suffered significant damage and they finished 32nd and 33rd, respectively – this after Elliott had dominated the early portion of Sunday’s race.
Denny Hamlin also had a bad finish after blowing an engine with 26 laps to go, marking the first time since 2007 at Kansas Speedway that five Chase drivers finished 30th or worse.