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Johnson wins, takes lead in Chase for the Cup
MARTINSVILLE, Va. — Mr. Martinsville is back.
Holding off Kyle Busch during a five-lap closing green-flag run at Martinsville Speedway, pole-sitter Jimmie Johnson won Sunday’s TUMS Fast Relief 500 at the .526-mile short track and grabbed the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series lead from sixth-place finisher Brad Keselowski.
Johnson’s fourth victory of the season and his seventh at Martinsville leaves him in a familiar position. He holds a two-point lead over Keselowski with three races left in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup.
Following Keselowski in the standings are Clint Bowyer (26 points back), Kasey Kahne (29 points behind) and Denny Hamlin (49 points behind).
Busch finished second .479 seconds behind Johnson, who won for the 59th time in his career. Kahne ran third, followed by Aric Almirola and Bowyer.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. finished 21st in his return to racing after a two-week hiatus.
Johnson had the lead on Lap 491 when a chain-reaction spin involving Sam Hornish Jr., Carl Edwards and Earnhardt caused the 11th caution and set up a restart on Lap 496.
Denny Hamlin’s championship hopes suffered a crushing blow when his No. 11 suffered electrical problems late in the race. After intermittent losses of power, Hamlin’s car stalled on the frontstretch on Lap 391, causing the eighth caution of the race.
By the time his crew identified and fixed the problem — a broken post on the master cutoff switch — Hamlin was 34 laps down and mired in 33rd place, his finishing position.