For the sixth time this season, and his second in the Chase, Jimmie Johnson took his No.48 Lowe’s Chevrolet to Victory Lane.
Leading 255 of the scheduled 335 laps, Johnson was clearly the dominate car at Texas Motor Speedway. Despite some slow pit stops, Johnson was able to stay ahead of the pack and hold of teammate Dale Earnhardt Jr. for the win.
“We came here and tested and did an awesome job of understanding what I needed in the car and what was going to create speed,” Johnson said after the race. “We came back and had a very smooth qualifying session and practice sessions, and just kept putting more and more speed in the car.
“It paid off today. Obviously, we need a lot of speed in the car and a win to get any points because Matt is there in the top five. Nice to gain just a few points on him. But just a dominant day for this Lowe’s team.”
Last season, Johnson was competing for the Championship with Brad Keselowski. After winning at Texas in 2012, Johnson held a seven point lead over Keselowski heading into the final two races. Brad Keselowski went on to win the Championship.
Jimmie Johnson currently holds a seven point lead over Matt Kenseth. Will history repeat itself?
Johnson is confident that he can win his sixth title, but he knows it won’t come easy.
“I’ve been watching a lot of MMA fighting lately, and you’ll fall into a rhythm and think that somebody has got the fight won, and it doesn’t end that way,” he said. “That’s how this is going to be. Matt didn’t have maybe the best day and still finished fourth. This thing is going to go to the last lap at Homestead, and it is going to come down to mistakes.
Matt Kenseth rallied back to finish forth after a pit road speeding penalty left him mid-pack and close to going a lap down. A series of well-timed cautions and a fast car allowed him to work his way up through the field, but he couldn’t quite catch Johnson.
Jeff Gordon went from a win and possible Championship contender to sixth in the standings and 69 points back. After slapping the wall hard on lap 74, Gordon had to take his Drive to End Hunger Chevrolet to the garage for lengthy repairs. He went on to finish 38th.
“Just had a left front tire go down, not really sure why yet, trying to figure that out, but that’s a shame,” Gordon said from his garage. “I don’t know if I ran over something or we just had a failure. I felt it go down and even had time to go on the radio and say, ‘Oh you-know-what’ because I knew I was getting ready to hit the wall hard. It’s a shame. This team has worked so hard to get ourselves in this position and we can’t have things like this happen. This is going to hurt.”
Is the Championship down to two drivers? Yes. Kevin Harvick sits just 40 points back from the top spot but with just two races to go, it will take a miracle for him to take the top spot. Is it possible? Of course, but for that to happen, both Johnson and Kenseth will have to have two very bad races.
The Championship is going to some down to the final laps at Homestead and who will be holding the Cup high? That is really anybody’s guess.