Johnson wins Martinsville to gain spot in NASCAR’s finale

Sprint Cup Series driver Jimmie Johnson celebrates winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series auto race with his wife and children at Martinsville Speedway in Martinsville, Va., Sunday, October 30th, 2016 (AP Photo/Steve Helber)
Sprint Cup Series driver Jimmie Johnson celebrates winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series auto race with his wife and children at Martinsville Speedway in Martinsville, Va., Sunday, October 30th, 2016 (AP Photo/Steve Helber)

MARTINSVILLE, Va. (AP) — A slot in NASCAR’s record books is absolutely in reach for Jimmie Johnson.

Johnson earned one of four coveted spots in next month’s title-deciding season finale on Sunday when he scored his ninth career victory at Martinsville Speedway. The six-time NASCAR champion will race for his seventh championship, which would tie him for the all-time record with Hall of Famers Richard Petty and Dale Earnhardt Jr.

The victory blocked Joe Gibbs Racing from placing all four of Toyota drivers in the final round of the Chase for the Sprint Cup title. There are only three spots still open in the Nov. 20 finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway, and JGR’s hope of sweeping the final four ended Sunday.

Most likely to miss the final? Carl Edwards, who had a tire problem and finished 36th at Martinsville.