ThatsRacin

NASCAR: AAA Texas 500 at Texas Motor Speedway rewind

Observations

•  You hear a lot of drivers say they will do anything to win a race, but in reality there are only some who really will do anything to win. If anything, NASCAR’s new Chase format encourages that philosophy, especially for drivers who are in the Chase but unlikely to advance to the next round based on points. This is the second time in the Chase Brad Keselowski has faced a win-or-get-eliminated position. I don’t see anything wrong with drivers electing to do whatever it takes to win. But by the same token, making moves that anger other drivers is likely to come back to bite you at a later time. The question then becomes one of risk vs. reward. Given the prestige of a Sprint Cup Series championship and the money involved, is there any wonder drivers would risk everything to win it?



• There was no secret Jimmie Johnson and crew chief Chad Knaus have had issues this season but it would have been silly to think their pairing was on the verge of coming to an end. In fact, what Johnson and Knaus have shown during their tenure is they perform best when they need to overcome adversity. Sunday’s win was just another example.



•  Anyone who thinks any of the eight drivers left in the Chase are “out of it” isn’t paying attention to the standings. No drivers are locked into Homestead right now and at the least three berths will come based on points. Kevin Harvick is last among the eight but trails first-place Joey Logano by 18 points – a margin that can made in one race.



How the remaining Chase drivers fared:

1 . Joey Logano (4,072 points)

Coming into the race, Logano was in good position in the series standings to have the opportunity to compete for the championship in the season finale at Homestead. And he ended Sunday’s race in even better position.

In between, however, he fought through a lot of adversity, including a bad pit stop when the lug nuts on his right-rear tire came off and a flat tire that caused him to spin late in the race.

2. Denny Hamlin (tied)

A mid-race pit strategy decision got Hamlin the lead in the second half of the race but it was short-lived. He remained in the Top 10 and out of trouble during the two two-lap overtimes to come away with a 10th place finish.

“We had a bad car. We made the best of it. Other guys made mistakes. We weren’t really that good,” Hamlin said. “Luckily other guys had problems.”

3. Ryan Newman (-2)

Newman and Richard Childress Racing’s No. 31 team continue to save their best for the end of the season. Newman ran in the Top-10 the entire race but slipped to 15th during the scramble in overtime. Yet with the trouble by other drivers, he remains firmly in contention for a chance to race for the championship at Homestead.

4. Jeff Gordon (-12)

Gordon worked hard to get in position late in the race to overtake his Hendrick Motorsports teammate, Jimmie Johnson, for the lead. Johnson retook the lead in the first overtime when Gordon and Keselowski made contact on the track, ending Gordon’s hope for a win.

None too pleased with Keselowski, Gordon confronted him after the race on pit road but the two drivers’ crews – and some others – ended up in a brawl.

5. Matt Kenseth (-13)

Kenseth started from the pole and remained in contention for the win most of the race until problems on a pit stop on Lap 252 dropped him back to 18th on the restart.

He and Newman also were forced to pit late in the race after he received damage from the Gordon/Keselowski incident. He ended up 25th.

6. Carl Edwards (-13)

At one point, Edwards was two laps down but as the race went into two overtimes, Edwards had worked his way back to the lead lap. He ended up finishing ninth in a race that could have virtually ended his championship hopes.

“We get to move on to Phoenix now and we will know what we have to do there. We will take it,” he said. “My guys didn’t quit and I know they won’t quit.”

7. Brad Keselowski (-17)

Keselowski qualified poorly and had a difficult time gaining track position in the first half of the race. Late in the race, he elected to remain on the track while other lead-lap cars pit for tires and took over the race lead.

As the race went into overtime, Keselowski made contact with Gordon in his attempt to get to leader Johnson and Gordon spun out.

“It was just a battle for the win,” he said.

8. Kevin Harvick (-18)

Not one of Harvick’s best tracks, he still managed be in the hunt late in the race for the win, which was what he likely needs to guarantee a chance to compete for the championship at Homestead. His second place finish did help him gain ground in the points race, however.

Chase drivers already eliminated:

9. Kyle Busch

10. Dale Earnhardt Jr.

11. Jimmie Johnson

12. A.J. Allmendinger

13. Greg Biffle

14. Kurt Busch

15. Kasey Kahne

16. Aric Almirola

Five key moments

1. Matt Kenseth started from the pole and led the first 53 laps before Jimmie Johnson moved into the lead for the first time.

2. Trouble on a pit stop on Lap 254 relegated Kenseth to 18th place and he never was able to regain track position.

3. Jeff Gordon moved into the lead on Lap 325 and appeared headed to victory until Clint Bowyer wrecked on Lap 331, sending the race into a two-lap overtime.

4. Brad Keselowski and Gordon made contact while racing Johnson for the lead on Lap 335, knocking Gordon out of contention for the win.

5. Johnson got a jump on the field in the second overtime and had little trouble holding off Kevin Harvick for the win.

Unofficial results and points standings

Fin St Driver Car Laps * Pts Earnings
1 3 Jimmie Johnson Chevy 341 48 $494,576
2 5 Kevin Harvick Chevy 341 43 $378,783
3 26 Brad Keselowski Ford 341 42 $255,658
4 9 Kyle Busch Toyota 341 40 $240,616
5 21 Jamie McMurray Chevy 341 39 $202,089
6 12 Dale Earnhardt Jr. Chevy 341 38 $165,840
7 17 Kyle Larson Chevy 341 37 $172,360
8 4 Kurt Busch Chevy 341 37 $134,665
9 11 Carl Edwards Ford 341 35 $142,715
10 20 Denny Hamlin Toyota 341 35 $132,165
11 6 Tony Stewart Chevy 341 33 $153,598
12 10 Joey Logano Ford 341 32 $152,181
13 19 Greg Biffle Ford 341 31 $153,515
14 23 AJ Allmendinger Chevy 341 30 $128,548
15 7 Ryan Newman Chevy 341 29 $118,415
16 13 Brian Vickers Toyota 341 28 $140,615
17 15 Paul Menard Chevy 341 27 $134,954
18 38 Casey Mears Chevy 341 26 $131,448
19 8 Martin Truex Jr. Chevy 341 25 $134,723
20 30 Justin Allgaier Chevy 341 24 $130,323
21 29 Austin Dillon Chevy 341 23 $151,476
22 33 Michael Annett Chevy 341 22 $117,523
23 18 Ricky Stenhouse Jr. Ford 341 21 $141,390
24 22 Aric Almirola Ford 341 20 $142,201
25 1 Matt Kenseth Toyota 341 20 $166,601
26 40 Cole Whitt Toyota 341 18 $104,765
27 16 Marcos Ambrose Ford 341 17 $130,810
28 24 Clint Bowyer Toyota 341 16 $139,256
29 2 Jeff Gordon Chevy 340 16 $149,001
30 28 Michael McDowell Ford 338 14 $102,355
31 39 J.J. Yeley Toyota 338 0 $112,687
32 37 David Ragan Ford 338 12 $108,415
33 32 Reed Sorenson Chevy 337 11 $100,215
34 31 David Gilliland Ford 335 10 $107,990
35 42 Timmy Hill Chevy 334 9 $99,790
36 27 Danica Patrick Chevy 332 8 $107,560
37 43 Joey Gase Ford 330 0 $99,352
38 14 Kasey Kahne Chevy 319 1 6 $113,180
39 25 Trevor Bayne Ford 318 1 0 $95,180
40 41 Brett Moffitt Toyota 283 1 4 $93,780
41 36 Josh Wise Chevy 256 3 $81,780
42 35 Alex Bowman Toyota 245 2 2 $77,780
43 34 Landon Cassill Chevy 134 2 0 $74,280

*Reason out: 1-accident, 2-engine.

Race Statistics

Average Speed of Race Winner: 132.239 mph. Time of Race: 3 hours, 52 minutes, 5 seconds. Margin of Victory: 0.513 seconds. Caution Flags: 13 for 61 laps. Lead Changes: 23 among 7 drivers. Lap Leaders: M.Kenseth 1-53; J.Johnson 54-91; K.Harvick 92-93; J.Johnson 94-137; J.Gordon 138-139; J.Johnson 140-175; J.Gordon 176; J.Johnson 177-205; J.Gordon 206; J.Johnson 207-216; J.Gordon 217-224; D.Hamlin 225-227; J.Gordon 228-243; J.Johnson 244-252; B.Keselowski 253-265; J.Gordon 266; B.Keselowski 267-275; J.Gordon 276-286; J.Johnson 287-296; M.Kenseth 297-302; Ku.Busch 303-317; J.Johnson 318-324; J.Gordon 325-333; J.Johnson 334-341.

Line at Chase for the Championship cutoff:

Pos Driver Points Ldr
1 Joey Logano 4072 0
2 Denny Hamlin 4072 0
3 Ryan Newman 4070 -2
4 Jeff Gordon 4060 -12
5 Matt Kenseth 4059 -13
6 Carl Edwards 4059 -13
7 Brad Keselowski 4055 -17
8 Kevin Harvick 4054 -18
9 Kyle Busch 2270 -1802
10 Dale Earnhardt Jr. 2234 -1838
11 Jimmie Johnson 2234 -1838
12 AJ Allmendinger 2228 -1844
13 Greg Biffle 2209 -1863
14 Kurt Busch 2192 -1880
15 Kasey Kahne 2179 -1893
16 Aric Almirola 2144 -1928
17 Kyle Larson 1018 -3054
18 Jamie McMurray 945 -3127
19 Clint Bowyer 939 -3133
20 Austin Dillon 933 -3139
21 Paul Menard 883 -3189
22 Brian Vickers 875 -3197
23 Marcos Ambrose 819 -3253
24 Martin Truex Jr. 798 -3274
25 Tony Stewart 774 -3298
26 Casey Mears 749 -3323
27 Ricky Stenhouse Jr. 708 -3364
28 Danica Patrick 687 -3385
29 Justin Allgaier 600 -3472
30 David Gilliland 521 -3551
31 Cole Whitt 512 -3560
32 Michael Annett 503 -3569
33 David Ragan 497 -3575
34 Reed Sorenson 480 -3592
35 Josh Wise 390 -3682
36 Alex Bowman 389 -3683
37 Michael McDowell 219 -3853
38 Travis Kvapil 214 -3858
39 Ryan Truex 193 -3879
40 Terry Labonte 88 -3984
41 Jeff Burton 87 -3985
42 Michael Waltrip 76 -3996
43 David Stremme 75 -3997
44 Timmy Hill 62 -4010
45 Bobby Labonte 54 -4018
46 Parker Kligerman 54 -4018
47 Brett Moffitt 52 -4020
Pos Driver Points Ldr
48 Juan Pablo Montoya 47 -4025
49 Alex Kennedy 47 -4025
50 Dave Blaney 46 -4026
51 David Reutimann 37 -4035
52 Boris Said 28 -4044
53 Nelson Piquet Jr. 18 -4054
54 Eddie MacDonald 9 -4063
55 Tomy Drissi 6 -4066
56 Clay Rogers 2 -4070
57 Landon Cassill(i) 0 -4072
58 Sam Hornish Jr.(i) 0 -4072
59 Trevor Bayne(i) 0 -4072
60 Ryan Blaney(i) 0 -4072
61 Brian Scott(i) 0 -4072
62 Ty Dillon(i) 0 -4072
63 Mike Wallace(i) 0 -4072
64 Kyle Fowler(i) 0 -4072
65 JJ Yeley(i) 0 -4072
66 Joe Nemechek(i) 0 -4072
67 Blake Koch(i) 0 -4072
68 Mike Bliss(i) 0 -4072
69 Corey Lajoie(i) 0 -4072
70 Joey Gase(i) 0 -4072
71 Regan Smith(i) 0 -4072
72 Morgan Shepherd(i) 0 -4072
73 Johnny Sauter(i) 0 -4072
74 Eric McClure(i) 0 -4072
75 Matt Crafton(i) 0 -4072
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