Jimmie Johnson claimed the points lead in the Chase for the Sprint Cup with his dominating performance with the #48 Lowe’s Chevrolet at Texas Motor Speedway for the 9th Annual AAA Texas 500, leading 255 of 334 laps for his sixth victory of the 2013 season. Johnson also has 24% of victories during Chase races.
Johnson has 66 victories in 433 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races, and is second to Tony Stewart (278 of 334 laps on November 5, 2006) for the most laps led at the Texas Motor Speedway during a race.
“We came here and tested, did an awesome job, understanding what I needed in the car and what was going to create speed,” Johnson said in victory lane. “We came back and had a very smooth qualifying session and practice session yesterday and just kept putting more and more speed in the car and it paid off today.”
“We need a lot of speed in the car and you got to win to get any points,” Johnson continued. “Matt (Kenseth) is in the top five, nice to get some points on him.”
Going into today’s race at Texas Motor Speedway, both Matt Kenseth and Johnson sat on top of the leader board in points, with the tie breaker going to Kenseth for the most wins this season, but with only two races remaining Johnson took a seven point lead over Kenseth with his victory today. Johnson was the defending winner of the fall race for 2012, and is the first driver to win consecutive November races since the track added a second event for the Cup drivers in 2005.
Even with the dominate car Johnson overcame an error his team made during the race when he came into the pits on lap 94 with a 14.7 second lead over the then second place Ryan Newman, when a missing lug nut made for a slow, 17.00 second pit stop, causing the #48 to fall back to five place as the pit stops cycled through.
Kenseth was also penalized for speeding in the pits just over the midway point in the race, but was able to rebound to bring the #20 Home Depot Let’s Do This Toyota in 4th place.
“We were just being too aggressive (on pit road). The 48 had us by the time they pulled it out of the truck,” said Kenseth. “They were dominant all weekend. I don’t know if it would have even made a difference without that penalty.”
Dale Earnhardt Jr. finished second, with Joey Logano finishing third, Kenseth in fourth and fellow Hendrick teammate Kasey Kahne finish fifth. Brad Keselowski, was the highest finishing non-Chase driver in sixth, with Denny Hamlin, Kevin Harvick, Ryan Newman and Clint Bowyer rounding out the top ten at Texas.
With Phoenix International Raceway and Homestead-Miami Speedway remaining on the Chase schedule, it is basically a two man race for the championship. Kevin Harvick is 40 points behind in 3rd with Kyle Busch 52 points behind in 4th.
“Matt (Kenseth) didn’t have maybe the best day and still finished fourth,” said Johnson. “This thing is going to come down to Homestead and down to the last laps.”
November 10, The Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Champion continues with the Advocare 500, at Phoenix International Raceway with coverage on ESPN starting at 3:00 pm eastern time.