Dallas Motorsports: AAA Texas 500

FORT WORTH, Texas -- What more could you ask for? Jimmie Johnson and Brad Keselowski -- the two men neck and neck for the Sprint Cup championship, racing side by side in the closing moments that included three dramatic restarts in the last 19 laps.

It was one restart too many for Keselowski, who couldn't stop Johnson's charge past him to the outside on a green-white-checkered dash at the end.

Johnson got one last chance to get by his new rival and he made the most of it, earning the 60th victory of his career and taking a seven-point lead over Keselowski with two races remaining to decide the 2012 title.

But what a show this was. It sure didn't start that way. Sunday's event at Texas Motor Speedway was long and uneventful for a good part of the day, but the finish was worth the wait.

Bad Brad was Brave Brad down the stretch, gambling on a two-tire pit stop to get the lead, then holding off Johnson (who had four fresh tires) when Johnson tried to pass him with eight laps to go.

Not many racers can stop Johnson in that situation, but Keselowski didn't give an inch when Johnson challenged him. Frankly, it was Keselowski at his best, showing skills as a driver that few people believe he had by keeping the five-time champ behind him as they raced inches apart at 185 mph.

You had to see it to believe it. This is what NASCAR racing should be, what everyone wants it to be on the 1.5-mile ovals that so often disappoint us.

Read the full story here.

Jimmie Johnson extends Chase lead

November, 4, 2012
11/04/12
9:22
PM CT
FORT WORTH, Texas -- Jimmie Johnson regained the lead on the final restart, beating Brad Keselowski in an ending two-lap shootout to win Sunday at Texas and add to his NASCAR Sprint Cup points lead with two races left.

Johnson led 168 laps, but found himself chasing toward the end. The third restart in the late laps proved to be the charm for No. 48 Chevrolet.

During that restart on the 333rd of 334 laps, Johnson and Keselowski were side-by-side. Johnson charged hard on the outside, and cleared him on the backstretch. He held on for the final 1 laps to win from the pole for the second week in a row.

"It was an awesome race. It's a great way to do it when the gloves are off and it's bare-knuckle fighting," Johnson said. "I got a great restart and got by him. I knew we had the speed if I could just get by him."

Keselowski had taken only left-side tires -- when everybody else took four tires -- and went from fourth to first on another restart with 19 laps left. But there were two more restarts after that, including one when Johnson and Keselowski banged together hard after they got going, but Johnson won the one that counted most.

"Man, I thought I had it, but we kept getting all those yellows," Keselowski said. "I knew I wasn't going to be able to execute every restart, and Jimmie did a great job on that last one."

Read the full story here.

Entry list: AAA Texas 500 at TMS

October, 30, 2012
10/30/12
3:53
PM CT

It's a circus at TMS in 2013

August, 21, 2012
8/21/12
6:50
AM CT
Texas Motor Speedway is marketing its three racing weekends in 2013 as the “No Limits” Wild Asphalt Circus and announced today that the schedule for next season will once again feature two NASCAR weekends and an IndyCar Series event.

The Texas 500 will be in April, the Firestone 550 IndyCar race is in June and the AAA Texas 500 is in November.

“Most cities look forward to the circus coming to town once a year, but we’ll guarantee three coming next year to the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex," TMS president Eddie Gossage said in a release. "We had great success with our ‘No Limits’ campaign that had its debut in 2011, but it was time to incorporate a creative, next generation of the theme that would capture the imagination of our fans. We’re going to have some fun with this Wild Asphalt Circus theme and in the end it’s all about creating a memorable experience and environment for our fans.”

The Texas 500 is April 13, making it the first Saturday night event of the Sprint Cup Series. There will be practice sessions for the Sprint Cup and Nationwide Series on Thursday, qualifying for both races on Friday and the O'Reilly Auto Parts 300 Nationwide Series race Friday evening.

The race falls on the same weekend as the Masters, though the green flag likely won't wave until after Saturday's third round.

The IndyCar Series is returning to TMS with the Firestone 550 on Saturday, June 8. The NASCAR Camping World Truck Series event is Friday.

Once again, the AAA Texas 500 is the eighth race of the Chase for the Sprint Cup and will run on Sunday, Nov. 3.

Start those engines and let the Chase begin

September, 14, 2011
9/14/11
10:37
AM CT

Like all playoffs, the eventual champion of the 2011 NACAR Sprint Cup season may not be the driver with the best performance all season. It may well be the driver that gets on a hot streak and performs at an unconscious level throughout the 10-race Chase.

Jimmie Johnson, the winner of an unprecedented five consecutive championships, has set the standard so high with his performance in the Chase that it’s a case study for how to win in modern NASCAR. What Johnson has shown is that a driver and team have to average finishing sixth or better over the last 10 races, a feat that has proven virtually impossible for all other drivers.

“You’re going to have to be in the top-10 every week,” said Jeff Gordon, himself a four-time NASCAR champ but never under the newer Chase format. “And you are going to have to win races.”

Kevin Harvick, who has been in the points lead for much of the year and won Saturday night’s regular-season finale -- his fourth win this season -- said the ability to make lemonade out of lemons is also a key to winning the title.

“It’s going to be who makes the least amount of mistakes and capitalizes on the day that you are off,” Harvick said.

While Harvick is right, this weekend’s race in Chicago is the first in the Chase. But you can’t automatically count out any Chase drivers that perform poorly there. In 2006 Johnson finished 39th in the first race of the Chase at New Hampshire but zoomed back to win his first title. And Clint Bowyer won last year’s Chase opener at New Hampshire but wound up finishing 10th in the final standings.

The point is that you may get away with a poor finish here or there, but it only raises the stakes for the team in the rest of the Chase races. The later the race, the more important to your championship dreams.

Johnson, who is in town Wednesday to promote the Nov. 6 AAA Texas 500 at Texas Motor Speedway, said that seven or eight drivers have the momentum to win the 2011 title. With a new point system, teams tightly bunched, momentum carrying into the Chase for so many drivers and with more emotion than seen in years, it appears this year’s Chase could be a classic.

Let the Chase begin.

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