Johnson seizes Chase lead with dominating win
FORT WORTH, Texas – Jimmie Johnson is the leader again in the Chase for the Sprint Cup title after a dominating victory Sunday at Texas Motor Speedway.
The five-time Cup champion knows all too well that his seven-point lead over Matt Kenseth is far from overwhelming with two races left in the season.
Johnson also left the Lone Star State last November with a victory and seven-point lead — and lost the championship to Brad Keselowski.
“I hope history doesn’t repeat itself,” Johnson said. “That is the perfect example of this thing isn’t over until it’s over. Last year we had eight great races and two bad ones and didn’t get the championship. ... There are two very important races left.”
Kenseth and Johnson were tied in points when they got to Texas, though Kenseth was considered the leader based on his seven wins.
Johnson led 255 of 334 laps for his sixth win this season while becoming only the second three-time Cup winner at the high-banked 1½-mile track. The No. 48 Chevrolet finished more than 4 seconds ahead of Hendrick Motorsports teammate Dale Earnhardt Jr.
“The 48 was in another class and nobody had anything for them,” said Earnhardt, who had his fifth runner-up finish this season and has been top 10 in all six of the last seven Chase races.
Kenseth was running second behind Johnson for much of the first half of the race before getting penalized for speeding. That dropped Kenseth to 16th place and more than 28 seconds back, though the No. 20 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota recovered for a top-five finish.
“We were just being too aggressive. Honestly, the 48 had us ... they were just dominant all weekend,” Kenseth said. “That speeding penalty got us behind us. We definitely didn’t need that, but really I don’t know at the end of the day that it really affected our finish much.”
At Phoenix, where the Chase goes next Sunday, Johnson is a four-time winner and finished second in March.
“I’m still confident,” Kenseth said.