JOHNSON EXTENDS CHAMPIONSHIP LEAD TO SEVEN
Jimmie Johnson and Brad Keselowski were nearing the start-finish line after a late restart at Texas when their cars suddenly slammed together (photo courtesy: Jared C. Tilton, GETTY IMAGES SPORT)
Jimmie Johnson rose to the occasion to collect his second NASCAR Sprint Cup Series career win at Texas; and his second in the 10-race Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup. The Chase For The NASCAR Sprint Cup will culminate at Homestead-Miami Speedway Nov. 18. Tickets for this year’s Ford Championship Weekend—Nov. 16-18 at Homestead-Miami Speedway—are on sale NOW.
Johnson tightened his grip on the 2012 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship Sunday at Texas, beating his nearest championship challenger Brad Keselowski on a green-white-checkered finish.
"The gloves are off and it's bare-knuckle fighting," Johnson said.
A flurry of late-race pit stops set up the final three-lap dash, with Johnson taking the lead on the outside through Turns 1 and 2. Kyle Busch, who is not among the 12 drivers competing in the 10-race Chase for the Sprint Cup, finished third and was followed by Matt Kenseth and three-time and reigning Ford 400 race winner and series champion Tony Stewart.
Johnson stretched his overall lead from two to seven points heading into Round 9 of the 10-race playoffs next Sunday at Phoenix International Raceway. The Chase For The NASCAR Sprint Cup will culminate at Homestead-Miami Speedway Nov. 18. Tickets for this year’s Ford Championship Weekend—Nov. 16-18 at Homestead-Miami Speedway—are on sale NOW.
Keselowski, who had taken only right-side tires during his last pit stop on Lap 312, banged fenders with Johnson exiting Turn 4 on Lap 328 on a restart following the race's eighth caution.
"I raced hard, and I'm sure someone would say dirty," said Keselowski, who overcame an early pit problem and got back up front by taking only two tires on one of the last stops. "Anytime you run close to certain guys you're racing them dirty according to some people. But I raced hard, and we both came back around, so there's something to be said for that."
Pole-sitter Johnson, a five-time Cup champion, dominated the early going, leading 164 laps before Busch and Keselowski took turns at the point.
Pre-race festivities featured a skydiver who made his presence known after a free-hanging weight on the bottom of the diver's flag struck the left-side door panel of Kevin Harvick's car as it sat on pit road.
The fluke incident was par for the course for Harvick's winless 2012 season, as he summarized on Twitter shortly after the damage was done: "Never good when the day starts with a parachute weight hitting our car. Welcome to 2012."
Johnson led seven times for a race-high 168 laps; and held-off stiff competition on the final restart en route to victory in Race 34 of 36 en route to NASCAR’s series-crowning Ford Championship Weekend at Homestead-Miami Speedway Nov. 16-18. Tickets for Ford Championship Weekend—Nov. 16-18 at Homestead-Miami Speedway—are available now.
"It's a small amount of control, but we're definitely in control. We don't have to catch any or make up any points," Johnson said. "Seven points is nothing to feel comfortable about and to relax on. We're still going to go into Phoenix and act as if we're behind and go in there to try to sit on the pole and win the race again."
Just two races remaining before Ford Championship Weekend at Homestead-Miami Speedway (Nov. 16-18). Tickets for Ford Championship Weekend—Nov. 16-18 at Homestead-Miami Speedway—are available now.
Next up for the Sprint Cup Series drivers is Phoenix on Sunday, November 11 (2:00 p.m. ET, ESPN, MRN) — en route to Ford Championship Weekend at Homestead-Miami Speedway (Nov. 16-18). Tickets for Ford Championship Weekend—Nov. 16-18 at Homestead-Miami Speedway—are available now.