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Jimmie Johnson leads at halfway mark in Kentucky

Jun 30, 2013, 2:04 PM EST

Quaker State 400 - Practice Getty Images

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.

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