Jimmie Johnson takes the checkered flag as his teammate Jeff Gordon takes a beating in the pits.
immie Johnson became the second-straight eliminated Chase for the Sprint Cup driver to win in the Eliminator round of the Chase on Sunday in the AAA Texas 500 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Texas Motor Speedway, joining Dale Earnhardt Jr. who won last weekend at Martinsville Speedway.
It was Johnson's fourth win of the season and his fourth-career win at TMS, making him the track's all-time wins leader. It also stands as his 70th Sprint Cup victory.
"We're back on track," Johnson said. "Unfortunately, we didn't find this stuff about a month or two to go."
Kevin Harvick finished second in his 500th career Sprint Cup race, and Brad Keselowski was third.
The battle for the win
Johnson got by Jeff Gordon for the lead on the first of two green-white-checker restarts. After Johnson took the lead, Brad Keselowski battled Gordon for second. The two made contact that resulted in a spin by Gordon. Gordon then went a lap down and wound up finishing 29th.
"There was a hole. I went for it; it closed up," Keselowski said. "We bounced off each other."
I had to show him my displeasure. It got ugly there, obviously.
Jeff Gordon on fight with Keselowski
On the second green-white-checker attempt, Johnson, Keselowki and Harvick waged a three-way battle for the lead and the win. Harvick got second, and Keselowski wound up third.
Pit lane brawl
After the race, Gordon and Keselowski fought over the late race contact. Fighting crew members were between the two drivers, but Harvick pushed Keselowski toward Gordon.
"If you're going to run into people all the time, you're going to have to fight your own fight, and I helped him get in it," Harvick said of pushing Keselowski.
Keselowski was then pulled to the ground by one of Gordon's crew members. After the smoke cleared, both Gordon and Keselowski had cut lips and Keselowski had was bruised on his left cheek.
"We drove down into turn one, and he just decided to body slam us and cut our left rear tire," Gordon said. "I had to show him my displeasure. It got ugly there, obviously."
Kenseth leads early, Kurt Busch surprises late
Matt Kenseth started on the pole and led the first 53 laps before Johnson took over command of the race. Both Gordon and Harvick spent time in second but were unable to take the lead from Johnson until Gordon was finally able to displace him up front on lap 217.
Kurt Busch led late due to staying out at various points in the second half of the race, holding off Johnson for a number of laps. Eventually, Johnson and Gordon were left to fight it out and JG was able to get the edge before another caution and the incident with Keselowski.
Best of the rest
Kyle Busch finished fourth, and Jamie McMurray was fifth. Finishing sixth through 10th were Dale Earnhardt Jr., Kyle Larson, Kurt Busch, Carl Edwards and Denny Hamlin. To get into the top-10, Edwards had to come from two laps down at one point of the race. He got back on the lead lap during a caution with about 40 laps to go. Kurt Busch's eighth-place finish was his 200th-career top-10.
A record number of cautions
While there was only one caution in the first half of the race's scheduled distance, the yellow flag waved often in the second half. In all, there were 13 cautions, a race record for Texas Motor Speedway. Tire wear was also an issue, prompting NASCAR to allow teams an extra set of tires in the later stages of the race.
Chasers finishing outside the top 10 included Joey Logano in 12th, Ryan Newman in 15th, Kenseth in 25th, and Gordon in 29th.