Five-time NASCAR Sprint Cup champion Jimmie Johnson won the AAA Texas 500 Sunday evening, his second win in a row, to gain a seven-point lead over Brad Keselowski with two races left in the season.
Johnson led almost the entire first half of the race, then handed off to Kyle Busch on lap 191 of 335. Keselowski took over on lap 237, only to lose the lead by missing his pit box on lap 275.
Keselowski gambled by only taking two tires to take the lead on a restart with nineteen laps to go, and then held off Johnson, after a little jostling, on another restart with eight to go.
Another caution with five to go set up a Green-White-Checker finish, and this time Johnson, with four fresher tires instead of Keselowski’s two, managed to get ahead on the restart and crossed the finish line eight-tenths of a second in the lead.
It was an awesome race. A great way to put it: the gloves are off and it’s bare-knuckle fighting,” Johnson told ESPN. “I have a lot of respect for that Two team (Keselowski,) those guys doing a great job.
Today I think our cars were pretty equal throughout the course of the race and at the end of the race we were on four (newer tires) and had to take advantage of it.
Johnson addressed the minor contact during the second-to-last restart: “That second-to-last restart was pretty sketchy a couple of times, how close and how hard we were racing. Luckily we brought the cars back, another caution came out and I got a great restart and got by him.
“I knew that we had the speed if I could just get by him, and got the Lowes Chevy to Victory Lane.”
“I thought I had it but we kept getting all those yellows and it kept giving them more shots,” Keselwoski told ESPN.
The Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup heads to Phoenix for the AdvoCare 500 on Nov. 11 and finishes up in Homestead, Fla. with the Ford EcoBoost 400 on Nov. 18.
If Johnson wins the championship, he will be second only to the legendary Richard Petty’s seven.