Jim­mie John­son gets fifth Sprint Cup win

The China Post - - SPORTS - BY STEPHEN HAWKINS

Jim­mie John­son was still chas­ing Jamie McMur­ray and Kevin Har­vick, try­ing to get back in front as the laps wound down at Texas Mo­tor Speed­way.

Then John­son got the break that led to his fifth NASCAR Sprint Cup victory at the track.

“They slid up high through (Turns) 3 and 4 and left the bot­tom wide open for me,” John­son said. “I thought I’d at least get (Har­vick). When I came off of Turn 4, I was along­side (McMur­ray).”

John­son passed both of them, re­gain­ing the lead for good with 14 laps left. He held off Har­vick and Hen­drick Mo­tor­sports team­mate Dale Earn­hardt Jr. for his sec­ond victory this sea­son — and 72nd of his ca­reer.

Har­vick, the se­ries points leader who has also won twice this sea­son, had been try­ing to get around McMur­ray, who had taken only two tires for the fi­nal restart on lap 314 of 334.

Then Har­vick went high and scraped the wall with about three laps to go.

John­son led nine times for 128 laps. He also won in Novem­ber at Texas, where all four of his pre­vi­ous wins had been in fall races.

The run­ner-up fin­ish for Har­vick comes af­ter he was eighth in Martinsville in the last Cup race two weeks ago. That ended his run of eight con­sec­u­tive races fin­ish­ing first or sec­ond, the long­est such stretch since Richard Petty did it 11 times in a row in 1975.

“I’m not dis­ap­pointed at all, rac­ing for wins is what we’re here to do,” said Har­vick, who led 96 of the 334 laps but is with­out a win in 25 Texas starts. “Noth­ing at all to hang your head about.”

This was the fifth time in John­son’s last seven starts at the 1 1/2-mile, high-banked track that he led at least 100 laps. This is fourth win in the span that also in­cludes a run­ner-up fin­ish in the spring race three years ago.

Earn­hardt, with his third third­place fin­ish this sea­son, gave Chevrolet a sweep of the top three spots in the first Sprint Cup night race this sea­son. But he was dis- ap­pointed with one move that he didn’t make that could have made the night even bet­ter.

Team Penske rounded out the top five in a pair of Fords, with de­fend­ing race win­ner Joey Logano fin­ish­ing fourth and Brad Ke­selowski fifth.

Har­vick, Logano and Martin Truex Jr., who fin­ished ninth, are the only driv­ers to fin­ish in the top 10 in all seven races this sea­son. Ke­selowski got his sixth top 10.

Jeff Gor­don, who in his last full sea­son, is the only driver who has started all 29 Sprint Cup races at Texas since the track opened in 1997. He fin­ished sev­enth af­ter start­ing 12th.

Gor­don won the 2009 spring race at Texas, where he has 12 top-10 fin­ishes. It is also the only track in his 768 ca­reer races where he has fin­ished 43rd — last in the field — and it did that twice, in 1999 and again in 2008.

Un­like af­ter John­son’s win in Novem­ber, the only pos­trace fire­works this time were in the sky.

There was late con­tact be­tween Ke­selowski and Gor­don in the race five months ago. That led to a pos­trace melee on pit road in­volv­ing both of their teams, a fra­cas that broke out af­ter Har­vick pushed Ke­selowski into the fray.

AP

Jim­mie John­son poses for pho­tos in Victory Lane af­ter win­ning the NASCAR Sprint Cup se­ries auto race at Texas Mo­tor Speed­way in Fort Worth, Texas on Satur­day, April 11.

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