Johnson retakes Sprint Cup lead with Texas win

Johnson retakes Sprint Cup lead with Texas win

Cup Series

Johnson retakes Sprint Cup lead with Texas win

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Jimmie Johnson re-established his NASCAR Sprint Cup points lead with just two rounds to go by dominating at Texas Motor Speedway.

The five-time champion led 255 of 334 laps in the 500-mile race, putting him seven points clear of title rival Matt Kenseth, who finished fourth.

“We came here and tested and did an awesome job of understanding what I needed in the car and what was going to create speed,” Johnson said. “We came back and had a very smooth qualifying session and practice sessions (Saturday), and just kept putting more and more speed in the car.

“It paid off today. Obviously, we need a lot of speed in the car and a win to get any points because Matt is there in the top five. Nice to gain just a few points on him. But just a dominant day for this Lowe’s team.” 

Johnson’s early opponent was polesitter Carl Edwards, who he overtook after 10 laps but twice lost the lead to in pit stops. Each time Johnson’s Hendrick Chevrolet was able to hunt down and repass Edwards’ Roush Fenway Ford, which eventually faded before dropping out with engine problems.

Kenseth worked his way forward to challenge Johnson as the race went on. A slightly slow mid-distance pit stop gave him ground to make up, but it was a pitlane speeding penalty on his next stop that really hurt.

The Joe Gibbs Toyota driver just managed to stay on the lead lap as he rejoined in 16th, and by the end had clawed his way back to fourth. There was a tantalizing moment for Kenseth when one of Johnson’s late stops was slow and dropped him to fifth place. But Johnson rapidly blasted back past all those in front of him to retake the lead and ultimately win by four seconds over teammate Dale Earnhardt Jr.

“The 48 was in another class, and nobody had anything for him,” Earnhardt said. “He was just super good all through practice and the race.”

“Overall, we can’t be disappointed with a third-place finish,” Logano added. “Just the 48 car was ridiculously fast.”

Joey Logano lost out to Earnhardt at the final stops and came home third. Brad Keselowski had a couple of spells in the lead and finished sixth, behind Kasey Kahne.

Kyle Busch slammed the wall early on yet did remarkably little damage to his JGR Toyota. After a quick pit stop for checks, he rejoined in 29th and still on the lead lap, fought back through to second, then broke the pitlane speed limit and could only finish 13th.

Jeff Gordon had edged back into the championship contention when he won at Martinsville last week, but crashing due to a blown tire at Texas ended his slim hopes.

Results - 334 laps:Pos  Driver              Team/Car                         Time/Gap 1.  Jimmie Johnson      Hendrick Chevrolet           3h18m05.000s 2.  Dale Earnhardt Jr   Hendrick Chevrolet                +4.392s 3.  Joey Logano         Penske Ford                       +5.999s 4.  Matt Kenseth        Joe Gibbs Toyota                  +7.754s 5.  Kasey Kahne         Hendrick Chevrolet               +11.170s 6.  Brad Keselowski     Penske Ford                      +12.365s 7.  Denny Hamlin        Joe Gibbs Toyota                 +17.521s 8.  Kevin Harvick       Childress Chevrolet              +17.779s 9.  Ryan Newman         Stewart-Haas Chevrolet           +20.905s10.  Clint Bowyer        Waltrip Toyota                   +21.337s11.  Mark Martin         Stewart-Haas Chevrolet           +24.002s12.  Greg Biffle         Roush Fenway Ford                +24.037s13.  Kyle Busch          Joe Gibbs Toyota                 +26.828s14.  Martin Truex Jr     Waltrip Toyota                   +28.568s15.  Paul Menard         Childress Chevrolet                +1 lap16.  Ricky Stenhouse Jr  Roush Fenway Ford                 +2 laps17.  Kurt Busch          Furniture Row Chevrolet           +2 laps18.  Parker Kligerman    Swan Toyota                       +2 laps19.  Elliott Sadler      Waltrip Toyota                    +2 laps20.  Juan Pablo Montoya  Earnhardt Ganassi Chevrolet       +3 laps21.  Marcos Ambrose      Petty Ford                        +3 laps22.  Austin Dillon       Childress Chevrolet               +3 laps23.  Kyle Larson         Phoenix Chevrolet                 +3 laps24.  Jeff Burton         Childress Chevrolet               +3 laps25.  Danica Patrick      Stewart-Haas Chevrolet            +3 laps26.  David Gilliland     Front Row Ford                    +3 laps27.  Aric Almirola       Petty Ford                        +4 laps28.  David Reutimann     BK Toyota                         +4 laps29.  Trevor Bayne        Wood Brothers Ford                +4 laps30.  JJ Yeley            Baldwin Chevrolet                 +4 laps31.  Jamie McMUrray      Earnhardt Ganassi Chevrolet       +5 laps32.  Travis Kvapil       BK Toyota                         +5 laps33.  Casey Mears         Germain Ford                      +6 laps34.  Landon Cassill      Circle Sport Chevrolet            +6 laps35.  Dave Blaney         Baldwin Chevrolet                 +8 lapsRetirements:     Joe Nemechek        NEMCO Toyota                     190 laps     Carl Edwards        Roush Fenway Ford                187 laps     Jeff Gordon         Hendrick Chevrolet               147 laps*     Josh Wise           Front Row Ford                   145 laps     Bobby Labonte       JTG Daugherty Toyota             144 laps     Timmy Hill          FAS Lane Ford                    125 laps     David Ragan         Front Row Ford                    81 laps     Michael McDowell    Parsons Ford                      27 laps* Running again at checkered flag

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