NASCAR: Jimmie Johnson Takes Points Lead, But Matt Kenseth Not Out Of Chase

Peter Casey-USA TODAY Sports

At first glance, Jimmie Johnson‘s win yesterday at the AAA Texas 500 at Texas Motor Speedway was dominating. I mean, a quick look inside the numbers will show that he led 255 of 334 laps. The win put him back on top of the points standings for the 2013 NASCAR Chase for the Sprint Cup Championship by seven points over Matt Kenseth, who finished fourth yesterday.

Johnson claimed his sixth win of the season and the 66th of his career in the series. He also joined Carl Edwards as the only drivers with three Sprint Cup victories at Texas. Johnson’s total laps led was the second-most dominating performance by a race winner at Texas. Tony Stewart ran in front for 278 laps when he won here in November 2006.

But before we had Johnson his sixth championship, lets flash back to last season at this exact same point. Johnson won last year’s Chase race at Texas as well. Ironically, he held a seven-point lead over Brad Keselowski at the time, but Johnson finished 32nd at Phoenix and then 36th at Homestead. Keselowski went on to claim his first Sprint Cup championship, while Johnson finished third in points.

Next Sunday’s race is at Phoenix International Raceway, a one-mile, low-banked tri-oval track. This week, it will be home to the Advocare 500. Kenseth and the Joe Gibbs Racing team are not about to give up on winning this Chase for the Sprint Cup Championship with two weeks left to go. In March at the Subway 500 race in Phoenix, Johnson finished second to Edwards while Kenseth finished seventh. But to be fair, it was only his second race in the No. 20 JGR Toyota.

The final race of the season on Sunday November 17 will be the Ford Ecoboost 400 at Miami-Homestead Speedway. It is one of only a handful of tracks that NASCAR only races at once a season. Miami-Homestead is a very tricky 1.5 mile track with a slight 18 to 20 percent bank. Kenseth has done well at Miami-Homestead, winning back in 2007, while this is one of only four tracks on the NASCAR series where Johnson has never won a race.

Just like last season, Johnson is in control of his own destiny, but he is far from a lock and Kenseth will not let up. It looks like just another Chase for the Sprint Cup Championship thriller.


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