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
The AAA Texas 500 forms part of the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup. The race covers a distance of 501 miles. Drivers who have won the race more than once include Carl Edwards (2005, 2008), Tony Stewart (2006, 2011) and Jimmie Johnson (2007, 2012, 2013). Who will cross the finish line first this year? For more information visit nascar.com
Date: 2 November 2014
Venue: Texas Motor Speedway
City: Fort Worth
Six-time Sprint Cup Series champion, Jimmie Johnson, notched up his first win of the 2014 season in the longest race of the series on Sunday. Starting from the pole position in the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway, Johnson led 164 laps of the 400 lap race, holding the lead for the final nine laps of the race, crossing the finish-line 1.273 seconds ahead of Kevin Harvick. Matt Kenseth took third place, followed by Carl Edwards and Jamie McMurray in fourth and fifth positions.
Despite back pain that saw him skip Saturday’s final practice, Jeff Gordon finished in seventh place, maintaining his position in the lead with 432 points – no easy feat considering the length of the race. With 421 points, Matt Kenseth is second in the standings, followed by Kyle Busch and Carl Edwards, both with 408 points.
Among fans, there are both critics and proponents of the length of the Coca-Cola 600, but most drivers seem to agree that it is a good thing that it is the only event of its kind. It’s very likely that this one-of-a-kind status adds to the attraction of a race that starts in the bright light of the sun, and ends under lights after sunset. The race is generally just over four hours long, during which time the track undergoes a number of changes as the blistering daytime temperatures drop dramatically after sunset, presenting drivers with challenges that require constant and consistent concentration.
Kurt Busch‘s bid to compete in the Indianapolis 500 (where he finished in sixth place)and the Coca-Cola 600 on the same day ended on a disappointing note as his car’s engine blew with 129 laps to go at Charlotte. Nonetheless, Busch noted that his experience of driving a stock car right after driving an Indy car was something he would never forget.
In a race featuring a record-breaking 33 lead changes, Kurt Busch crossed the finish line in first place in the STP 500 at Martinsville Speedway on Sunday, beating Jimmie Johnson to the win by a mere 0.263 seconds. Dale Earnhardt Jr. took third place, followed by Joey Logano and Marcos Ambrose. Six races into the 2014 season and six different NASCAR drivers have taken the checkered flag, reportedly a first in Sprint Cup history. Had Johnson won the race it would have been his ninth at the historic Martinsville Speedway, nonetheless he was in the lead for 296 of the 500 laps. While this was Busch’s 25th career victory, it was his first win driving the #41 Chevrolet for Stewart-Haas Racing.
An earlier collision with Brad Keselowski nearly put Busch out of the running and cost Keselowski 31 laps, although he returned to the track and gained points. Following the predetermined caution on lap 40 to allow teams to check tire wear, upon leaving the pit lane Keselowski ran into Kasey Kahne as he entered the pits. At that point Keselowski reported damage to the #2 Ford, but things got worse as Kurt Busch, in attempting to pass the two cars, drove into the back of Keselowski’s car, pushing him even further into Kahne’s car. (Kahne went on to finish the race in 22nd place.) Keselowski put the blame for the damage to his car on Busch, but observers have noted that he started the incident by running into Kahne. Once back on the track, Keselowski brake-checked Busch, who retaliated by making contact, only to have Keselowski brush up against him again. In post-race interviews and on-the-spot tweets, it appears that the incident between Busch and Keselowski during the STP 500 may become an out-and-out feud.
Currently, the top five in the NASCAR Sprint Cup standings are:
1. Dale Earnhardt Jr. – #88 Chevrolet – 227 points
2. Matt Kenseth – #20 Toyota – 218 points
3. Carl Edwards – #99 Ford – 217 points
4. Jeff Gordon – #24 Chevrolet – 216 points
5. Jimmie Johnson – #48 Chevrolet – 209 points
Driving for Hendrik Motorsports, Jimmie Johnson took the checkered flag in the 2013 STP 500. Be sure to be at the Martinsville Speedway on March 30 to cheer your favorite NASCAR driver across the finish line. The race consists of 500 laps, covering a distance of 263 miles. For more information visit nascar.com or martinsvillespeedway.com
Date: 30 March 2014
Venue: Martinsville Speedway
Country: United States