Jimmie Johnson Spoils Keselowski’s Party, Wins AAA Texas 500by Kyle Pokrefky November 8, 2015 0 comments
A pass for the lead with six laps to go by Jimmie Johnson ripped up Brad Keselowski’s ticket to Homestead-Miami Speedway as the driver of the No. 48 Lowe’s Chevrolet took the win in the AAA Texas 500 on Sunday evening.
Keselowski was the class of the field at Texas Motor Speedway – leading all but 22 laps – yet he couldn’t hang on to the lead for the final six circuits around the track.
Being in a ‘win and you’re in’ situation entering Texas and heading into the event outside of the Championship Round cutoff by 24 points, the loss of the lead may have stung for the 2012 Sprint Cup champion, but he is feeling confident heading into the final race of the Eliminator Round at Phoenix International Raceway.
“It was a good race at the end,” Keselowski said. “We led a lot of laps. A lot to be proud of. Came up one spot short, which is unfortunate. But still we had a great day. Just one step short of having the awesome day we needed to have.
“But we know if we keep running like we have the last two weeks, you know, we’ll win races. We need to win the next two. I understand that. But I think we have a great opportunity to do it, as well.”
For Johnson, the Texas win was the 75th of his career and his sixth at the mile-and-a-half track.
The win for the six-time champ wasn’t a complete redemption for being unceremoniously eliminated from the Chase following the Challenger Round, however, after going winless through the last 20 races, his victory today was quite a significant one.
“A big day for the Lowe’s race team,” Johnson said. “Summer didn’t go as we wanted. There were some good races in there, but no trips to Victory Lane. To start the Chase, we had two good races, then Dover happened. From that point on, we had to swallow that pill, and certainly disappointed that the hopes for the championship were gone.
“We tried to make the most of it. I think our mile‑and‑a‑half performances have been really strong in the Chase. We’ve been building and knocking on the door for a win…
“Wish we were in the Chase, still fighting for the championship. But getting a win here does a lot for everybody at Hendrick Motorsports. Couple that with Jeff [Gordon]’s win last weekend, his hopes to go to Homestead and become the champion. We definitely have a very excited 600 plus employees back in Charlotte, North Carolina. Good stuff.”
It was an up-and-down day for most of the Chase drivers, yet the finishing order placed seven Chasers in the top-nine.
Completing the top-10 of the race standings were Kevin Harvick, Kyle Busch, Carl Edwards, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Kurt Busch, Martin Truex Jr., Jeff Gordon and Jamie McMurray.
Joey Logano was the lone Chase driver to finish outside of the top-10 as he lost a tire 10 laps into the race and subsequently went behind the wall. The driver of the No. 22 Shell/Pennzoil Ford went on to finish 40th – 66 laps off of the lead.
Logano was one of several drivers to experience tire issues throughout the day.
Drivers such as Harvick, Earnhardt Jr., Ryan Blaney, Kyle Larson and Ryan Newman each had their respective issues with their sets of Goodyears throughout the day.
While Harvick and Earnhardt Jr. recovered to finish in the top-six, Blaney, Larson and Newman each respectively finished outside of the top-20 with Blaney and Larson being scored as DNFs.
The Eliminator Round wraps up at Phoenix next weekend with the Quicken Loans Race for Heroes 500k with one last chance remaining for seven remaining Chase drivers to punch their ticket to Homestead-Miami Speedway.
Gordon is safely through to the Championship Round with Kyle Busch, Harvick and Truex Jr. currently within the cutoff zone for Homestead-Miami. The points spread between second and sixth in the standings currently stands at 23 points.
Top-10 Finishers of the AAA Texas 500
- 48 – Jimmie Johnson – Chevrolet – Hendrick Motorsports
- 2 – Brad Keselowski* – Ford – Team Penske
- 4 – Kevin Harvick* – Chevrolet – Stewart-Haas Racing
- 18 – Kyle Busch* – Toyota – Joe Gibbs Racing
- 19 – Carl Edwards* – Toyota – Joe Gibbs Racing
- 88 – Dale Earnhardt Jr. – Chevrolet – Hendrick Motorsports
- 41 – Kurt Busch* – Chevrolet – Stewart-Haas Racing
- 78 – Martin Truex Jr.* – Chevrolet – Furniture Row Racing
- 24 – Jeff Gordon* – Chevrolet – Hendrick Motorsports
- 1 – Jamie McMurray – Chevrolet – Chip Ganassi Racing
Eliminator Round Standings after Race 2 of 3 – Top-Four Advance to Championship Round
- 24 – Jeff Gordon – Hendrick Motorsports – 4082 | Leader | LOCKED IN
- 18 – Kyle Busch – Joe Gibbs Racing – 4080 | -2
- 4 – Kevin Harvick – Stewart-Haas Racing – 4079 | -3
- 78 – Martin Truex Jr. – Furniture Row Racing – 4o76 | -6
- 19 – Carl Edwards – Joe Gibbs Racing – 4069 | -13
- 2 – Brad Keselowski – Team Penske – 4057 | -25
- 41 – Kurt Busch – Stewart-Haas Racing – 4048 | -34
- 22 – Joey Logano – Team Penske – 4013 | -69
* = Chase driver.
Photo Credit: Sean Gardner/NASCAR via Getty Images