Jimmie Johnson Wins For The Seventh Time At Texas Motor Speedwayby Hunter Thomas April 9, 2017
FORT WORTH, Tex. – Jimmie Johnson won for the seventh time at Texas Motor Speedway after taking the checkered flag in the O’Reilly Auto Parts 500 on Sunday afternoon.
Johnson only led 18 laps en route to his first victory of the 2017 season. The driver of the Hendrick Motorsports No. 48 Lowe’s Chevrolet has now won four of the last six races at the mile-and-a-half oval. The victory is his 81st career win in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series.
“I guess I remembered how to drive; and I guess this team remembered how to do it,” Johnson said. “I’m just real proud of this team. What a tough track and tough conditions. We were really in our wheelhouse and we were just able to execute all day. Thanks to everybody at Lowe’s and Chevy and the fans and a ton of sponsors. Oh, it was hot in there. I got cooked in the car today. I didn’t have any fluids so I’m not feeling the best, but we got into Victory Lane. I’m so proud of the fight in this race team. I can’t wait to celebrate during this off-weekend with my family and friends and really enjoy this.”
Finishing second on Sunday was Chip Ganassi Racing’s Kyle Larson in the No. 42 Credit One Bank Chevrolet. Larson started the race in the 32nd position, received a penalty for driving through more than three pit boxes on lap 32, and he was able to battle back to earn his fifth top-10 finish in the first seven races this season. Larson continues to lead the point standings by 17 points over Chase Elliott.
“It feels really good,” Larson said. “Our Credit One Bank Chevy was good from the start, was able to pass a lot of cars there in the beginning. Got a pit road penalty. I clipped too many boxes there and then came from the back and passed a lot of cars again. Just felt like we passed cars a lot. All-in-all a good day. You never know… I felt like maybe if I didn’t have that pit road penalty early in the race I could have gotten to the lead that run with how good we were and maybe controlled the race from there. Just a little mistake on my part and we’ve got to clean that up a little bit and maybe we will win some more of these.”
Team Penske’s Joey Logano finished third after leading 38 laps throughout the afternoon. Kevin Harvick and Dale Earnhardt Jr. finished fourth and fifth respectively. Completing the top-10 was Brad Keselowski, Jamie McMurray, Martin Truex Jr., Chase Elliott and Kurt Busch.
Sunday’s race was absolutely dominated by the Wood Brothers Racing’s Ryan Blaney, who finished 12th. Blaney started outside of the front row in second, and he led a race high of 148 laps. The driver of the No. 21 Motorcraft/Quick Lane Tire & Auto Center Ford won Stages 1 and 2.
“If you would have asked me if we would have been so good at the first two stages yesterday, I wouldn’t have thought so, and that definitely means a lot,” Blaney said. “It teaches us a lot what we need to do as far as changes from practice to race. It definitely helped being up front, as well.
“Once we got that caution before the second segment, a lot of guys pitted and there was a lot of mixed strategies, and we decided to try to win the segment, which I thought was important to get those point and an extra bonus point, and I thought we had enough of the race to go to try to work our way back up through there, and I think we got to eighth or something like that before the last caution, and I slid through our pit box, and that was an unfortunate deal. We were kind of pinned in between the 4 (Kevin Harvick) and the 88 (Dale Earnhardt Jr.) and there was a weird angle and I just stopped a little deep, and I hurt us on that one for sure. But we just weren’t able to pass anybody after that.”
During the 334-lap race, there were 16 lead changes among six drivers. There were also eight cautions for 35 laps. The only caution for an accident occurred on lap 11, when the yellow flag flew for an accident involving Reed Sorenson, Gray Gaulding and Jeffrey Earnhardt.
Up next for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series is the Food City 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway on Sunday, April 23. Live broadcast from the half-mile track will air on FOX and the Performance Racing Network (PRN) at 2 p.m. ET.
Photo Credit: Sarah Crabill/Getty Images