Jimmie Johnson put on a dominating performance at Texas Motor Speedway on Sunday, leading 255 of the 334 laps that made up the AAA Texas 500 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at the track on his way to his sixth win of the season and the 66th of his career.
“We came here and tested and did an awesome job,” Johnson said. “We came back and were really smooth in qualifying and practice and added speed.”
With the win and dominating performance, Johnson pulled out to a seven-point lead over Matt Kenseth, who finished the race in the fourth position. The two championship leaders headed into Texas dead-locked atop the standings.
It’s still two weeks of very hard racing for us,” Johnson said.
Dale Earnhardt Jr., Johnson’s Hendrick Motorsports teammate who also tested at TMS, finished second, and Joey Logano was third.
“We’re getting close (to a win),” Earnhardt said of his most recent runner-up showing. “We came here and tested, so we thought we had a good chance of winning.”
Early in the race, Johnson’s stiffest competition came from Carl Edwards, the race pole sitter. The two drivers developed a pattern of Edwards beating Johnson off pit road during cautions, only to see Johnson retake leads several laps after restarts.
That changed, though, when Edwards dropped several positions after a lap 73 caution and then eventually retired from the race with a blown engine. He was credited with a finish of 37th after leading 38 laps, the second-highest laps-led tally of the race.
Kenseth took over where Edwards left off after taking second on lap 101. Kenseth ran second to Johnson until he was caught speeding on pit road during a green-flag pit cycle that got underway just after lap 160.
“We were just being too aggressive,” Kenseth said. “Honestly, the No. 48 had us from the time they unloaded.”
Kenseth fell back to 16th as a result of the speeding penalty, but eventually worked his way back toward the front. After staying out longer than his competitors and a 17-second pit stop, Johnson found himself backed up to Kenseth after the next cycle of green stops.
Johnson worked his way back toward the front, ,taking the lead from Brad Keselowski with 79 laps to go, while Kenseth was unable to get any closer to the front than the fourth spot. The field cycled through green-flag stops one finish time in the final 40 laps, with Johnson, Earnhardt, Logano and Kenseth cycling to the top-four of the running order after the stops. All four drivers would hold those positions for the remainder of the race. Kasey Kahne rounded out the top-five.
Kyle Busch and Jeff Gordon were within the top-five of the championship points standings heading into the Texas race, and both encountered tire issues. Busch scraped the wall on lap 57, but was able to remain on the lead lap and recovered to run as high as second afterward before a pit road speeding penalty on his final stop in the final 40 laps put him in the back again. He wound up 13th for the race and fourth in points.
Gordon wasn’t as fortunate. After hitting the wall on lap 73, he spent significant time in the garage and wound up more than 100 laps down in 40th. As a result, he dropped from third to sixth in the standings.
Finishing sixth through 10th were Brad Keselowski, Denny Hamlin, Kevin Harvick, Ryan Newman and Clint Bowyer.
– Photo courtesy of Getty Images for NASCAR