For the first time in the history of NASCAR’s Chase for the Cup, seven-time champion Jimmie Johnson will not be competing for the NASCAR title. Saturday saw Chase Briscoe pick up the first XFINITY Series win at the Charlotte Roval in the Drive for the Cure 200. Sunday’s wild Bank of America Roval 400 (Federated 400) Ryan Blaney came out on top after a wild finish.
Chase Briscoe Surges to Win in Drive for the Cure 200 at Charlotte
Strategy and the new Roval at Charlotte Motor Speedway made for an interesting race in Saturday’s XFINITY Series Race for the Cure 200. Daniel Hemric took his Richard Childress Racing number 21 to the win in the first stage, while C. Bell increased his lead over Justin Allgaier with his second stage win and the wreck late in the race took Allgaier out. Hemric and Chip Gannasi Racing’s Austin Cindric finished second and third respectively.
Blaney “Gets Lucky” While Johnson’s Luck Runs Out
Sunday’s Bank of America Roval 400/Federated 400 saw people’s fortunes go up and down more often and faster than the world’s fastest and tallest roller coaster. Jimmie Johnson needed a combination of a strong finish and less than ideal finishes from other drivers near the cut line to survive elimination. He was fighting Martin Truex, Jr. for the lead on the last lap Sunday night when he went into the chicane too hard and spun, also taking out Truex.
Johnson had the presence of mind to come to a full stop since his spin blew him through the chicane and he crossed the stripe in eighth place, apparently enough to pass him into the second round due to a big wreck with six to go that appeared to take Kyle Larson out of the race. However, Larson was able to keep going although his right lower control arm was broken, and limped across the finish line ahead of Jeffrey Earnhardt, putting him in a three-way tie with Aric Almirola and Johnson. The tie was broken by virtue of Larson’s best finish in the playoffs being better than Johnson’s best of eighth.
Ryan Blaney was peripherally involved in the wreck that took out or heavily damaged a number of cars, but was able to continue, and he was able to barely squeeze through the spins of Johnson and Truex on the last lap to take the win. He told NBC’s Rutledge Wood after the race that “Sometimes it’s nice to be lucky” and “I almost wrecked there with them, but just barely made it through.” Jamie McMurray survived the late carnage for a second place finish, while Clint Bowyer assured his passage to the next round with a third place finish.