By AMANDA VINCENT
Brad Keselowski led most of the AAA Texas 500 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Texas Motor Speedway near Fort Worth on Sunday, but Jimmie Johnson played Chase spoiler, passing Keselowski in the final four laps of the 334-lap race to claim his fifth win of the season.
“I just kept pressure on him,” Johnson said of racing Keselowski in the closing laps. “I could see that he was really tight, and that was the first I had seen him that vulnerable all day. I just kept the pressure on him, kept searching for line. He saw me coming on the top and protected it. I just kept trying to put pressure on him, hoping for a mistake. He got real loose off of turn two, and I had a big run down the backstretch and drove it in really far into turn three, hoping to hear clear. Once I did, I knew I was home free.”
Keselowski wound up finishing second after leading 312 laps, a TMS record for most laps led in a single race. Johnson was the only non-Chaser to finish in the top-five, as Kevin Harvick, Kyle Busch and Carl Edwards rounded out the top-five.
“We led 300-some laps and these debris yellows always favor someone, and it wasn’t our day for them to favor us,” Keselowski said. “I am still very proud of our effort today. We will have a greaet shot at winning next week. We really needed to winn this one, and I know I gave it my all.”
Harvick was among several drivers plagued by tire issues. He suffered two tire problems, blowing a left-rear on lap 36 and then a right-rear on lap 281.
“As you look at the things we’ve had, we’ve had really good race cars and that allows us to overcome things like today with two flat tires,” Harvick. “Even with the shifter problem we were able to maintain what we had. But all in all, we just kept gouging away and everything worked out in the end.”
After his first tire issue, Harvick got back up to second on lap 221, even though he battled a shifter issue that required him to hold on to the shifter with his right hand, under speed, to keep his car from jumping out of gear. After pitting for his second tire problem, he took the lead when Keselowski also made a green-flag stop on lap 298, but on lap 300, Keselowski retook the top spot.
Joey Logano, Keselowski’s Team Penske teammate, was another driver who had a tire problem. He blown left-rear tire on lap 10 damaged his No. 22 severely enough to put Logano in the garage long enough to go more than 60 laps down before returning to the track. He wound up with a 40th-place finish.
“It just blew apart off of turn two,” Logano said. “The left-rear tire came apart and shredded everything inside the car. It did a lot more damage than just the tire blowing apart. I don’t know. We needed to win. We aren’t out of it, though. This team isn’t quitting yet.”
Dale Earnhardt Jr. finished sixth after driving up through the field twice, once after a tire problem and again after scraping the wall and bringing out a caution.
Kurt Busch finished seventh, Martin Truex Jr. was eighth, Jeff Gordon ninth and Jamie McMurray 10th.
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