This race won’t be remembered for a post-race brawl or fiery crash. There were eight cautions, three for debris and five for minor spinouts or wall contact.
A rather uneventful night didn’t matter to Jimmie Johnson, though. He reminded everyone once again who owns Texas Motor Speedway, extending his track record to five wins by taking the checkered flag at the Duck Commander 500 on Saturday night.
Johnson went from third to first in one lap with 14 laps to go, passing Jamie McMurray and Kevin Harvick.
Johnson stayed there the rest of the way, holding off Harvick and a hard-charging Dale Earnhardt Jr. during the final laps to create some drama for the estimated 154,000 in attendance.
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“I think that the No. 88 [Earnhardt], the No. 4 [Harvick], all of us that were involved in that there at the end just had a blast,” said Johnson, who led a race-high 128 laps, including 112 of the final 175.
“That is how racing should be, and I’m so happy the fans got to see that.”
It’s the second win of the season for Johnson, who won at Atlanta last month. It’s also another sign that Johnson is more than capable of winning a seventh Sprint Cup Series championship this year.
“We have had an awesome, awesome start to the year,” said Johnson, downplaying a four-race stretch going into Texas that was anything but stellar.
His fellow drivers are well aware of that, too.
“Jimmie is a six-time champion,” Earnhardt said. “He’s got a heck of a résumé.”
Especially at Texas.
Johnson beat Brad Keselowski on a late restart last fall, making this two consecutive wins at Texas.
This time, however, it was the first time he’d won the spring race. He’s only the third driver in track history to win the spring and fall Cup races at Texas, joining Denny Hamlin and Carl Edwards.
“They just have a really good setup for here for sure,” Harvick said. “You look at his history, this is a racetrack that fits what they do.”
Nobody would argue that, but it’s still a bittersweet race for Harvick. He admitted he wanted to win a Cup race at Texas badly the other day, something he’s yet to do despite his strong history with five Xfinity Series wins and a truck win.
It’ll be months before he gets another try in November.
But the night belonged to Johnson and the No. 48 Chevrolet. They emerged victorious on a night that featured several of the top drivers contending, even though the race was largely a snoozer.
The best action came with minor wall contact by the likes of Michael Annett and AJ Allmendinger. Keselowski had an unfortunate moment by taking himself out of contention with a commitment line violation, forcing him from seventh to the back of the lead lap field.
McMurray and Jeff Gordon briefly held late leads, gambling by taking only two tires on a late pit stop, but they had fallen off by the end.
It came down to Johnson, Harvick and Earnhardt in the end, and nobody was going to take down Johnson. Just like in the past.
“The off-week [last week for Easter] was good for us to sit down and relax, reboot and come back to the track,” Johnson said. “They brought me a fast race car that was good all weekend.”
Drew Davison, 817-390-7760
1. Jimmie Johnson
2. Kevin Harvick
3. Dale Earnhardt Jr.
4. Joey Logano
5. Brad Keselowski
6. Jamie McMurray
7. Jeff Gordon
8. Kasey Kahne
9. Martin Truex Jr.
10. Carl Edwards