Gamble pays off for NASCAR's Jimmie Johnson at Kansas

Jimmie Johnson wins NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Kansas Speedway after staying on track during a late caution

Jimmie Johnson stayed on the track during a late caution to take over the lead, then held off hard-charging Kevin Harvick to win the rain-delayed NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Kansas Speedway.

Johnson was chased across the line by Harvick and Hendrick Motorsports teammates Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Jeff Gordon as the clock ticked past midnight into Sunday.

Most of the leaders were conserving fuel after pitting with 58 laps to go, and Johnson and Earnhardt decided to press their luck when Ricky Stenhouse Jr. got into the wall, bringing out the final caution with 12 laps left. The Hendrick cars remained on the track while Harvick went in for right-side tires and fuel, and Martin Truex Jr. got a splash of gas.

Johnson built a quick lead on the restart, but Harvick quickly got around Earnhardt on his fresh tires down the front stretch and set his sights on the lead.

Harvick appeared to have the faster car, but he bobbled at one point on the back stretch, giving Johnson a little more space. He maintained it the rest of the way to win for the third time this season and for the third time at Kansas Speedway.

Truex led a race-high 95 laps, but his pit decision proved costly. Without tires, he faded on the final restart and finished ninth — extending his winless streak to 112 races.

Joey Logano stormed to a top-five finish despite two pit-road penalties that had dropped him back to the leading line. The first came just before a band of rain passed through the area, forcing a delay of 2 hours, 16 minutes. The other penalty came when Logano entered pit road with it closed, dropping him from sixth to the back of the line with 83 laps to go.

Matt Kenseth was sixth, followed by Brad Keselowski, Kurt Busch, Truex and Ryan Newman, who finished in the top 10 with interim crew chief Todd Parrott calling the shots.

Newman's team learned Wednesday that its appeal of penalties for altering tires during a race at California had been upheld, and that he would be without normal crew chief Luke Lambert and two other crew members for a six-race period beginning with Kansas.

Eighteen-year-old Erik Jones, making his first Sprint Cup start in place of Kyle Busch, ran near the front most of the night before getting loose on the front stretch and turning into the wall. He was able to return to the race but finished 25 laps down.

 

 

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