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Jimmie Johnson had his work cut out for him to make his way to the front of the field at Bristol Motor Speedway after starting 37th, but that didn't stop him from earning a 2nd place finish and a spot in the 2012 NASCAR Chase for the Sprint Cup.
It quickly became evident at Bristol that it was going to be difficult to pass on the inside to gain positions, so Johnson and Chad Knaus used a heavy dose of patience and some smart pitting strategy to make their way through the field. In a night of numerous cautions and hairy moments on the track, Johnson's only close call came early in the night when he found himself driving into the rear of a group of cars who had bunched up in front of him, causing some cosmetic damage to the nose of his No. 48 Lowe's Dover White Chevrolet.
As the race entered the latter stages, Knaus put Johnson on a pit strategy that would stretch his fuel window to the limit to keep him at the front of the pack until the checkered flag waved. The strategy proved successful, as Johnson remained up front. Despite not being able to catch and pass Denny Hamlin for the lead, Johnson and the rest of Team Lowe's Racing were very pleased with their 2nd place finish and can breathe a sigh of relief to know that they have already clinched a spot in this year's Chase for the Sprint Cup.