Jimmie Johnson survives to advance

TALLADEGA, AL - OCTOBER 14: Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe's Chevrolet, and his crew chief, Chad Knaus, stand on the grid during qualifying for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Alabama 500 at Talladega Superspeedway on October 14, 2017 in Talladega, Alabama. (Photo by Sarah Crabill/Getty Images)

KANSAS CITY, Kan. – On Lap 188 of Sunday’s Hollywood Casino 400 at Kansas Speedway, Jimmie Johnson’s hopes for a record eighth Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series championship appeared to take a telling blow.

With Kurt Busch’s No. 41 Stewart-Haas Racing Ford tucked close behind him in Turn 4, Johnson spun and slid through the infield grass. He brought the No. 48 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet to pit road, where his crew inspected the suspension and made quick repairs to a hood that was bowed up on the right side.

“Car’s fine—nothing wrong with it,” crew chief Chad Knaus radioed to his driver.

In Turn 3 after a restart on Lap 193, however, Johnson spun again. Miraculously, the cars behind him all were able to dodge the out-of-control Chevrolet.

A subsequent 14-car wreck on Lap 198 proved the undoing of Matt Kenseth, Johnson’s closest rival for the final Round of 8 spot, and the seven-time champion advanced by nine points after finishing a hard-fought 11th.

“I had one (spin) off of (Turn) 4 and the other in (Turn) 3 on the restart,” Johnson said. “The car was extremely loose. We fought the balance throughout the day, and the car would swing so hard. We were trying for short-run speed to free the car up, and we just got too far with it and I spun out twice. Thankfully I didn’t hit anything too hard.

“And when things really changed was down the back straightaway in that wreck. Somehow, I went through there at a high rate of speed and missed everybody. I don’t know how, but I made it. And then the No. 1 (Jamie McMurray) car was sitting there, and I thought I had him lined-up for a square impact, but fortunately he slid out of the way.

“It wasn’t a pretty day, but we got it done.”

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