CONCORD, N.C. — Jimmie Johnson is back. Johnson snapped a career-long 24-race winless streak at the ideal time, winning Sunday’s Bank of America 500 at Charlotte Motor Speedway to give himself a bye into the third round of the Chase for the Sprint Cup. Johnson took advantage of misfortune which affected several Chase contenders and went to victory lane at Charlotte for his eighth career victory at Hendrick Motorsports’ home track — and his first since 2014.
"We knew we would get back," Johnson said, "it just took a lot longer than we wanted." This is the first time Johnson has advanced to the third round since the new Chase format was implemented in 2014. It’s also Johnson’s first win since the March race at Auto Club Speedway in Southern California and the 78th of his career in NASCAR's premier series.
It worked. Johnson’s last win – in March – was also the last Cup win for Hendrick. Johnson and Hendrick took dinner to the team, which was working around the clock at the wind tunnel to try to find more speed for the No. 48 Chevrolet. “We just fell back on what we’re made of at Hendrick Motorsports. There’s a culture there and a belief and that culture wasn’t fun for us all to experience what we’ve been through. “Everybody has seen the cars get stronger and better and faster. We’re going to enjoy this one.”