The Chase rolls on with just two races left before the championship-deciding round at Homestead-Miami Speedway. The eight drivers in contention for the title join the remainder of the field racing in the Lone Star State, in the AAA Texas 500.
One driver that would be missing from the field was Matt Kenseth, who would be replaced by Erik Jones in the #20 Toyota after being suspended for intentionally wrecking Joey Logano at Martinsville. Meanwhile, that distraction would loom over Texas, where Team Penske looked to right the ship with Brad Keselowski (#2 Wurth Ford) on pole.
The race would be dominated for the early half of it by one storyline – tires. With a relatively clean surface at the Texas Motor Speedway after rain washed out much of the rubber on the track on Saturday and all of Cup practice that day. This would lead to many tire failure for a myriad of reasons. Those failures would continue to occur throughout the race, causing questions about their causes and the Goodyear rubber brought to the track.
First among the tire failures would be Joey Logano (#22 AAA Ford), who would spin and get damage after just eight laps. His day would be ruined, forcing him into a must-win situation to move on after Phoenix. Meanwhile, other frontrunners including Dale Earnhardt Jr. (#88 Kelly Blue Book Chevy) and Kyle Larson (#42 Target Chevy) would face similar problems.
Meanwhile, the other Team Penske driver Brad Keselowski would drive away from the field, absolutely dominating the entire race. After starting from pole, Keselowski would never look back, knowing he was in a must-win situation himself after a wreck at Martinsville. The only driver who could muster a challenge to Keselowski throughout the day was Kevin Harvick (#4 Budweiser Chevy). He could cut down Keselowski’s lead, but two tire failures would end his chance for victory.
However, everything would change with a debris caution with 24 laps to go. After the leaders pitted, it was a battle for the lead between Brad Keselowski and Jimmie Johnson (#48 Lowe’s Chevy). With the laps counting down, Johnson continued to work behind Keselowski, eventually finding a way by the #2 car, and would go on to win the AAA Texas 500. It would be his first win in twenty races, and a big proclamation of the championship-winning team’s return to the top.
Brad Keselowski would hold on to second, while Kevin Harvick recovered from two tire failures to third. However, neither Keselowski or Harvick are secure heading into next weekend at Phoenix, having to race their way into the final round at Homestead. Jeff Gordon is the only driver entering Phoenix with his spot secured so far.
Be sure to tune in for the penultimate race of the Sprint Cup season at Phoenix next weekend on your local NBC station. It is certain to be a big game changer for the Chase for the Sprint Cup.