Jimmie Johnson (48) races against Kyle Busch (18) during the NASCAR Sprint Cup series auto race at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth, Texas, Sunday, Nov. 3, 2013. Johnson went on to win the race. (AP Photo/Brandon Wade)
FORT WORTH, Texas — Think of any way to describe amazing, and it described Jimmie Johnson at Texas Motor Speedway.
Spectacular? Awesome? Incredible?
“It was all of that,” he said.
How about future Sprint Car champion?
Not so fast.
“This thing isn’t over until it’s over,” Johnson said.
No, it just looks that way.
The five-time Sprint Cup champion flattened the field Sunday at the AAA Texas 500, blowing past Matt Kenseth and everybody else to take a seven-point lead into the final two races of the season. He led 255 of the 334 laps, second most in TMS history, in winning from the inside of the second row.
“This was an awesome, awesome race car,” Johnson said of his No. 48 Chevrolet, which he drove to five consecutive championships from 2006 to 2010 and is now poised for a sixth. “And we needed it. Matt didn’t have the best day, and he finished fourth. It’s hard to get points in this championship battle.”
On the cool, overcast afternoon, providing extra grip for the tires, it was hard to even get close to Johnson.
Just a handful of laps into the race, the rest of the drivers knew what was in store.
“The fastest car won the race. I promise you that,” said third-place Joey Logano. “He was so fast. It was unbelievable.”
“His car was so much faster than the field,” said Brad Keselowski, who finished sixth. “It was pretty embarrassing, to be quite honest.”
“He was in a class of his own,” runner-up Dale Earnhardt Jr. said. “We were joking that we won the GT class. They were super fast. I was super, super impressed with those guys’ car.”
Kenseth, too, could only shake his head, glad to have lost only seven points to the leader.
“Honestly, the 48 had us from the time they unloaded until the time they put it back on the truck,” he said. “They were just dominant all weekend. We just honestly never had the car to run with the 48.”
Kenseth did his part to let the leader get away from him. He took a speeding penalty on pit road on Lap 174, when he was 3.5 seconds behind. He came out of the penalty 27.5 seconds behind. He had enough car to make it up, but he’ll never know how close he could have come.
“The speeding penalty got us behind. We definitely didn’t need that. But really, I don’t know at the end of the day if that really affected our finish much,” he said. “We just didn’t have what we needed to get any farther forward.”
Johnson’s victory also put him in the TMS record books. He tied Carl Edwards with his third victory for most at Texas Motor Speedway. And he is the first back-to-back winner of Chase races at TMS. He won last November’s AAA Texas 500 in a daring shootout with Keselowski.
Johnson didn’t let his mind drift to any of that. As the race laps clicked off, he thought of only one thing: keep the car on the track.
“Couple tense moments in there,” he said with a smile near the end of his postrace interviews. “But honestly, when you have a dominant car, it’s so stressful because you’re waiting for the one thing that can get you.”
Whatever that might be, everyone is still waiting.
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