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Jimmie Johnson fends off Harvick to win for record fifth time at Texas

Jimmie Johnson fends off Harvick to win for record fifth time at Texas
Apr 12, 2015, 4:23 AM

Jimmie Johnson became the first driver to win multiple races this season at TMS.

Jimmie Johnson, Hendrick Motorsports
Kevin Harvick, Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet
Jamie McMurray, Ganassi Racing Chevrolet
Dale Earnhardt Jr., Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet

Jimmie Johnson came out on top in a thrilling multi-car fight for the win as the laps clicked away at Texas Motor Speedway. It's the California-native's 72nd career win, record-setting fifth at Texas, and second this season.

Driving the Lowe’s Pro Services Chevrolet, Johnson won for the second time this season and for the 72nd time in his accomplished career.

Winner comments

The race marked the seventh NASCAR Sprint Cup Series event in 2015.

“I had a great, great race car,” Johnson said in victory lane.  “We have had an awesome start to the year even though our results don’t show it.  We kept plugging away at it and the off-week allowed us to sit down and relax, reboot and come back to the track.  They brought me a fast race car today.

“I thought we were in big trouble on one restart when No. 4 (Kevin Harvick) got into the lead and I couldn’t go anywhere.  On the next restart, the car was a little better and then on that last pit stop, we made the right adjustment and I caught the No. 4 and raced with the No. 1 (Jamie McMurray).  After getting by those guys, I was able to check out.  It was an exciting race and we had a blast.”

Winning crew chief

Added crew chief Chad Knaus, “Texas is a track that falls into Jimmie’s liking, and it is a track that a driver has to search and try to find a different line.  Obviously, 500 miles here there’s a huge swing in track conditions and the way that Jimmie is able to describe what he feels in a race car and with our engineers being able to keep up with the race track and trying to get better over 334 laps around here, it is a good race for us and is a lot of fun.  For us, the race went very well and Jimmie did a great job.”

Harvick, who led 96 laps, zipped past Dale Earnhardt Jr. at the finish line for second place.  The pair was separated by .034 seconds.

“All night I was battling the balance of the car, which is pretty typical when you come to Texas,” the 2014 series champion said.  “I was in position to win but got hung up behind the No. 22 (Joey Logano) and the No. 1 car, losing too much time and then tried to make too much of it up in chunks and then almost spun out, getting into the fence while trying  to make up ground.  All in all it was a lot of fun and it is fun to race that way.”

In his race with Logano, the two touched with the Ford driver sliding out of the groove.

Earnhardt ended up third after recovering from an errant pit stop in the early going.

Said the reigning champion, “I had (Kevin) Harvick cleared off of (turn) I had passed him on the bottom and I had a hard time on the top so I wanted to try the bottom in three and four and he beat me around there.  I still had Jimmie behind me at that point and I should have pulled up in front of Kevin and made it a little more difficult on him. 

“We weren’t as good as the 48 or the 4 early in the race, but we definitely improved it and Greg (Ives, crew chief) and the Nationwide team did a great job in getting it better.  We have had that speed all year and it’s good to get a good finish in the bank because these last few weeks have been pretty rough, but we know what we are capable of.  Greg and I are just getting started here and we are right there on their heels man. If we ever get this thing figured out – it’s going to be tough.”

Following the eighth and final caution of the night, four drivers gambled and took just two tires. That number was reduced to three when Kyle Larson, scheduled to restart third, was handed a penalty for driving through too many pit boxes.

The pass for the win

With 15 laps to go, Harvick tried to pass McMurray on the high side, but was blocked. Johnson took advantage of the opportunity, going to the inside and passing both cars. Despite a lot of pressure from both Harvick and teammate Dale Earnhardt Jr., the No. 48 held on and was able to cruise to the checkered flag when Harvick hit the wall with three to go.

Following the aforementioned trio was the Penske duo of Logano and Brad Keselowski. The risky call paid off for McMurray and Gordon, who came away with sixth and seventh place results. Kasey Kahne, Martin Truex Jr., and Carl Edwards rounded out the top ten.

Pos  Driver   Car  Laps 
1 Jimmie Johnson Chevrolet 334
2 Kevin Harvick Chevrolet 334
3 D.Earnhardt Jr. Chevrolet 334
4 Joey Logano Ford 334
5 Brad Keselowski Ford 334
6 Jamie McMurray Chevrolet 334
7 Jeff Gordon Chevrolet 334
8 Kasey Kahne Chevrolet 334
9 Martin Truex Jr. Chevrolet 334
10 Carl Edwards Toyota 334
11 Denny Hamlin Toyota 334
12 Ryan Newman Chevrolet 334
13 David Ragan Toyota 334
14 Kurt Busch Chevrolet 334
15 R.Stenhouse Jr. Ford 334
16 Danica Patrick Chevrolet 334
17 Greg Biffle Ford 334
18 Trevor Bayne Ford 334
19 Aric Almirola Ford 334
20 Austin Dillon Chevrolet 334
21 A.J.Allmendinger Chevrolet 334
22 Clint Bowyer Toyota 334
23 Matt Kenseth Toyota 334
24 Tony Stewart Chevrolet 334
25 Kyle Larson Chevrolet 334
26 Sam Hornish Jr. Ford 334
27 Casey Mears Chevrolet 333
28 David Gilliland Ford 333
29 Brett Moffitt Toyota 333
30 Chris Buescher Ford 332
31 Michael McDowell Ford 332
32 Landon Cassill Chevrolet 332
33 Alex Bowman Chevrolet 330
34 Matt DiBenedetto Toyota 330
35 Cole Whitt Ford 330
36 Mike Bliss Ford 328
37 Alex Kennedy Chevrolet 325
38 Josh Wise Ford 284
39 Justin Allgaier Chevrolet 257
40 Michael Annett Chevrolet 246
41 Paul Menard Chevrolet 222
42 Ryan Blaney Ford 71
43 J.J. Yeley Toyota 13


Menard's evening ends early at Texas

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