After a slow start to the season, Jimmie Johnson is starting to heat up.
The reigning NASCAR champion took the lead away from Kevin Harvick with 21 laps remaining in Monday's Food City 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway and held on for the win, his second in as many races after a victory at Texas. It's the 11th time in Johnson's career he's won back-to-back races and his 82nd career NASCAR Cup victory.
Harvick stayed on the track while the leaders pitted with just under 40 laps remaining when Paul Menard and Kasey Kahne brought out the caution, setting up an interesting finish. Despite the older tires, Harvick was able to finish third behind Johnson and Clint Bowyer.
Matt Kenseth finished fourth followed by Joey Logano and Larson, who maintained his spot on top of the points standings.
The race was scheduled to run Sunday, but was postponed to Monday due to rain.
Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s run of bad luck continued at Bristol as he hit the wall on a restart on Lap 218. The accident, which ended his day, appeared to have been caused by the oil cooler breaking loose in the engine of Earnhardt Jr.’s No. 88 Chevrolet.
"We came out of the pits and there was some oil in the pit stall,” Earnhardt told reporters. “I noticed when I was getting lined up double file (for the restart), it started smoking. I don’t know why.
“But we got oil all over the engine compartment. And when we got to the corner, it went straight into the wall. I don’t know what’s broken, but I think that’s the end of the day.”
Race-favorite Kyle Busch also wrecked out on Lap 383 of the 500-lap race after his second tire issue of the day.
Busch, who has been critical of Goodyear on multiple occasions this season, didn't understand why he was the victim once again.
"I was the fastest one out there those last two runs picking cars off and driving from the back to the front after we lost our track position the first time," he told reporters. "We had our issues and we were trying to march our way back up towards the front and get there and thought we were doing a good job of that and trying to be conservative with the tires because obviously they can’t make it through a full distance for us for some reason.
"I don’t know, I don’t know if it’s fundamentally wrong what we’re doing, but it seems like all the rest of our five JGR (Joe Gibbs Racing) cars are fine.”
Full unofficial results from the Food City 500:
Martin Truex Jr.
Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
Dale Earnhardt Jr.
Stage 1 winner: Kyle Larson
Stage 2 winner: Martin Truex Jr.