Jimmie Johnson was on a roll on Sunday, holding the lead in 119 laps of the 334 lap AAA Texas 500 and taking the checkered flag. Johnson missed making the list of eight drivers competing in the Eliminator Round of this year’s NASCAR Chase for the Sprint Cup, but his win was his third consecutive victory in the AAA Texas 500 and his fourth in total as he had previously won the event in 2007, 2012 and 2013, each time for Hendrick Motorsports. It was also his fourth win of the 2014 NASCAR Sprint Cup season, his other three being the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway on May 25, the Fedex 400 at Dover Speedway on June 1, and the Quicken Loans 400 at Michigan International Speedway. Johnson’s victory on Sunday also means that none of the eight Eliminator Round contenders – Joey Logano, Kevin Harvick, Brad Keselowski, Jeff Gordon, Carl Edwards, Denny Hamlin, Ryan Newman and Matt Kenseth – were able to clinch a sure spot in the season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 16, a situation which is likely to keep the competitive spirit at fever pitch.
Matt Kenseth set off in the lead in the AAA Texas 500, but Johnson dominated the race. He was challenged by teammate Jeff Gordon who took the lead for a time, but Johnson surged ahead after the caution flag on Lap 245. With the caution in Lap 260 Brad Keselowski made his way to the front, holding Gordon back for several laps. More caution flags resulted in Kewselowski dropping back and Johnson took the lead after struggling to get past Kurt Busch. In Lap 313 Kasey Kahne spun out, raising another caution, with Johnson reclaiming the lead only to lose it to Jeff Gordon. When Clint Bowyer hit the wall and the 12th caution of the race came out, Johnson took the lead, battling with Keselowski who was passed by Kevin Harvick as the race drew to a close.
The final results in the AAA Texas 500 were:
1. Jimmie Johnson – #48 Chevrolet
2. Kevin Harvick – #4 Chevrolet
3. Brad Keselowski – #2 Ford
4. Kyle Busch – #18 Toyota
5. Jamie McMurray – #1 Chevrolet
By earning first place in the Geico 500 at Talladega on Sunday, 2012 Sprint Cup champion Brad Keselowski secured his place in the Eliminator Round of the 2014 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. Matt Kenseth took second place in the action-packed race, with Clint Bowyer, Landon Cassill, and Ryan Newman taking third, fourth and fifth places respectively. Drivers who will not be progressing into the next phase of the championship include Kyle Busch, Kasey Kahne, Jimmie Johnson and Dale Earnhardt Jr.
Brian Vickers was in pole position at the start of a race that saw a number of changes in the lead, ending the race in 20th position. Johnson needed a win to avoid elimination, but although he did well in parts of the race, ended in 24th position. As green flag pit stops began at Lap 103, Kyle Busch was caught up in a wreck at the back of the field, sending him into the pits. He made it back to the track, picking up 4 points, but ending in 40th place.
At one point Danica Patrick was in the lead, but when a caution came out with only 13 laps remaining, Ryan Newman took the lead and held it until another caution flag came out with only five laps to go. As the race came to an end, Earnhardt got caught up in a wreck, and Keselowski took the lead in overtime, holding back the rest of the field for the final three laps and winning the Talladega race.
The eight drivers competing in the Eliminator Round – Joey Logano, Kevin Harvick, Brad Keselowski, Jeff Gordon, Carl Edwards, Denny Hamlin, Ryan Newman and Matt Kenseth – will have their point totals reset to 4,000, while the abovementioned four will have their point totals reset to 2,000 with points gained in the regular season and the Chase being added. The Eliminator Round starts with Goody’s Headache Relief Shot 500 at Martinsville Speedway on October 26, followed by the AAA Texas 500 at Texas Motor Speedway on November 2, and the Quicken Loans Race for Heroes 500 at Phoenix International Raceway on November 9. The final Championship race will be the Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 16.