NASCAR Sprint Cup Series

       === Johnson takes over Chase points lead with Martinsville win ===
 Martinsville,  VA  (Sports Network) -  Jimmie Johnson grabbed a two-point lead
 over  Brad Keselowski  in the Chase for the Sprint Cup championship by winning
 Sunday's Tums Fast Relief 500 at Martinsville Speedway.
 Johnson,  the pole  sitter,  grabbed the  lead from  Keselowski  with 14  laps
 remaining. An accident involving Carl Edwards and Dale Earnhardt Jr., who made
 his  return after sitting  out the previous two races due to a concussion, set
 up a five-lap shootout to the finish.
 After  the  restart, Kyle Busch  challenged Johnson  for the lead, but Johnson
 managed  to hold  off Busch at the  finish line by 0.5 seconds. He claimed his
 fourth  win  of the season.  It was also  his record-extending 21st Chase race
 victory but his first since Oct. 9, 2011 at Kansas.
 "I'm  ecstatic  about the win today,  and I'm ecstatic about the points lead,"
 said  Johnson,  who earned his  59th career  Sprint Cup victory, including his
 seventh at Martinsville.
 Johnson's  win allowed  him to collect a total of five bonus points, including
 two for leading a race-high 193 laps.
 The five-time Sprint Cup champion held the lead late in the race, but during a
 caution  for Kevin  Harvick's expired engine with  less than 25 laps to go, he
 pitted  from the  top position  to take  two new  left-side tires.  Keselowski
 elected to stay out on the track and took over the lead. Johnson ran third for
 the restart with 19 laps left but quickly chased down Keselowski before making
 his winning pass.
 "We  had a great  race car," Johnson said. "I think we also learned our lesson
 from the past here about not pitting late, and that really came into play, and
 we made the right decision there."
 Keselowski  had  to patiently make  his way through the  field for most of the
 race  after  starting 32nd. With older  tires, Keselowski faded in the closing
 laps  to  finish sixth. He  came to Martinsville  with a seven-point lead over
 Just  three  races remain --  Texas (Nov. 4),  Phoenix (Nov. 11) and Homestead
 (Nov. 18).
 "I know this championship is going to come down to Homestead, and you just got
 to  be in  a position where you have  a shot at it, and we're doing the things
 that it's going to take," Keselowski said. "We'll keep fighting a good fight."
 While Johnson and Keselowski are separated by two markers, Denny Hamlin took a
 big hit in points with a 33rd-place finish. Hamlin, who won Saturday's Camping
 World  Truck  Series race at  Martinsville, was  penalized for speeding on pit
 road  twice during the first half of the Sprint Cup event. He then suffered an
 electrical  issue that  put him behind the  wall for more than 30 laps. Hamlin
 dropped  from third to fifth in the Chase rankings, as he trails Johnson by 49
 "When  these things  happen,  you just  got  to suck  it up  and  move on,"  a
 disappointed  Hamlin  said. "There's nothing  I can do  about it. One of these
 days it's going to be our time. It's just not going to be right now."
 Kasey  Kahne finished  third, while Aric Almirola and Clint Bowyer rounded out
 the top-five. Bowyer moved up to third in points (-26).
 Jeff  Gordon finished  seventh, followed Brian Vickers, Bobby Labonte and Greg
 Biffle. Earnhardt Jr. wound up finishing 21st.
 "I  was  just really (ticked) off  about how we finished that race," Earnhardt
 Jr. said about his incident with Edwards. "That was really ridiculous. I mean,
 you've got to use a little common sense, and that was not a good move."
 Kahne is now 29 points out of the lead, while Gordon trails by 54.
 Johnson's  win allowed  Chevrolet  to  clinch its  10th  consecutive and  36th
 overall manufacturers' championship in NASCAR's premier series.
 10/28 19:11:18 ET

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