Pulling away from Brad Keselowski in a green-white-checkered-flag finish at Texas Motor Speedway, Jimmie Johnson won Sunday night’s AAA Texas 500 and tightened his grip on a possible sixth NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship.
Johnson finished .808 seconds ahead of Keselowski and increased his lead in the standings to from two points to seven. The victory was Johnson’s fifth of the season, his second at Texas and the 60th of his career. For the second straight week, Johnson won a Chase race from the pole.
Kyle Busch ran third, followed by Matt Kenseth, Tony Stewart and Clint Bowyer.
After NASCAR called the sixth caution of the race on lap 274, for debris on the backstretch, Keselowski entered the pits as the leader but dropped eight spots on the exchange of stops.
First, Keselowski slid to the front of his pit stall on the stop. Compounding the problem, the No. 10 Chevrolet of Danica Patrick, whose pit stall was immediately in front of Keselowski’s, stopped at the top of her box, blocking Keselowski’s exit.
By the time the No. 2 crew pushed the Blue Deuce back to give Keselowski clearance, he had lost the eight spots, as other lead-lap cars rolled past.
Keselowski spent the subsequent 30-lap green-flag run making up ground. On Lap 307, he passed Matt Kenseth for the fourth position, with Johnson running second behind Kyle Busch.
Three laps later, Marcos Ambrose’s accident in Turn 2 brought out caution No. 7, and Keselowski regained the lead with a two-tire stop. Busch was second off pit road, ahead of Johnson, who restarted third on Lap 316.
Keselowski surged to the lead, clearing Busch on the backstretch, and held the top spot until the caution on Lap 321 for an incident involving Kasey Kahne, Jeff Gordon and Greg Biffle in Turn 2 slowed the field. Kahne got the worst of the contact, lost a lap and saw his title hopes all but evaporate.
Keselowski and Johnson raced side-by-side and a hairbreadth from losing control after the restart on lap 327, with Keselowski pulling out to an eight-car-length lead, but a wreck on the frontstretch two laps later set up the two-lap dash to the finish.
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