Jimmie Johnson has taken advantage of clean air following the Lap 49 red flag and is currently pacing the middle stages of today’s Quaker State 400 at Kentucky Speedway.
Johnson had yet to pit when the caution came out at Lap 89 for debris from the right-rear tire of David Gilliland during what had been a wave of green flag stops for debris. He took four tires on the stop and has been able to maintain the point since then.
Running second is Joey Logano, who has had a healthy amount of past success at Kentucky with multiple wins there in the Nationwide Series. Clint Bowyer has risen to third place, followed by Denny Hamlin, who has performed admirably since losing a tire earlier in the afternoon. Matt Kenseth has also been steady, currently fifth at the halfway mark.
As for Johnson’s teammate, Dale Earnhardt Jr., the front-end damage he sustained from Hamlin’s wayward tire carcass has forced him into a battle to get out of the mid-pack. NASCAR’s most popular driver has managed to stay on the lead lap but was only 19th at halfway, with the front end and splitter of his car almost completely covered in black tape.
Gabby Chaves is set to return to the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship at Watkins Glen International later this month.
The Columbian-American driver, who last competed in IMSA in 2016 – with the DeltaWing outfit – will sub for the injured Joao Barbosa – he hurt his wrist in a cycling accident earlier in June – in the No. 5 Mustang Sampling Racing Cadillac DPi-V.R in the Sahlen’s Six Hours of the Glen.
Chaves will partner Filipe Albuquerque and Christian Fittipaldi in the No. 5 Cadillac.
Chaves expressed gratitude for being asked to fill in, but kept his enthusiasm muted, noting that he is getting the opportunity ultimately because another driver got hurt.
“The first thing is of course that you never want to have an opportunity because someone got hurt, so this is an unfortunate circumstance with Joao having his injury,”said Chaves. “But I appreciate the opportunity to join the championship-leading team. Mustang Sampling Racing has had a strong start this year and hopefully I can help the team continue to have those kinds of results.”
Chaves added, “I love Watkins Glen, it is a great track and I am looking forward to racing the Cadillac Prototype there. I’m excited to be going back to endurance racing. With different classes all racing at the same time, there is a lot for the driver to deal with as you work through traffic. So I am looking forward to racing at the Glen again, and I really appreciate this opportunity with Mustang Sampling Racing.”
Chaves’ most recent IMSA event was the 2016 Sahlen’s Six Hours of the Glen, when he finished seventh in the Prototype class.
The No. 5 Action Express Cadillac currently sits tied with the sister No. 31 Whelen Engineer Racing Cadillac of Eric Curran and Felipe Nasr atop the IMSA standings, though Barbosa’s hopes of a driver’s championship are set to take an enormous hit with him missing Watkins Glen.