NASCAR

Jimmie Johnson swipes lead late, records fourth straight win at Texas

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Jimmie Johnson swipes lead late, records fourth straight win at Texas

FORT WORTH, Texas -- Brad Keselowski was dominating at Texas, leading lap after lap and getting oh so close to a victory that would have given him one of the four championship-contending spots in the Chase for the Sprint Cup finale.

Until Texas fall favorite Jimmie Johnson came charging after the final restart.

Keselowski led a track-record 312 of 334 laps Sunday after starting from the pole, but couldn't keep Johnson from winning the Texas fall race for the fourth straight year.

"Just one step short of having the awesome day we needed to have," Keselowski said. "I'm not sure exactly how to feel about it at the moment. The 48 car had so much speed those last 10 laps."

With the already-eliminated Johnson getting his 75th career victory, three spots are still up for grabs at Phoenix, the last race before the Nov. 22 finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway. The only championship contender set is retiring four-time champion Jeff Gordon, the Martinsville winner last week and Johnson's teammate at Hendrick Motorsports.

Kyle Busch leads the points race for at least two of the spots, ahead of defending Chase champion Kevin Harvick and Martin Truex Jr. Carl Edwards is next, followed by Keselowski, Kurt Busch and Joey Logano.

"It's not a must-win situation for us like it is for some other guys," said Kyle Busch, who finished fourth Sunday. "Couldn't be more pleased with the position we got right now."

After the final restart with 18 laps left, Keselowski and Truex were side-by-side, and even made contact at one point before Truex went in front very briefly.

Keselowski almost as quickly got back in front, and Johnson also went charging past Truex into second place and right on the leader's tail. Truex lost his power steering in those closing laps, and slipped to finish eighth.

Johnson kept pushing and on the backstretch on lap 331, he finally got past when Keselowski got really loose out of the second turn. Johnson went on to win by more than a second.

"That was the first I had seen him that vulnerable all day. I just kept the pressure on him, kept searching for line," Johnson said.

"I did everything I could to hold him off but he was way faster that last run," Keselowski said. "As I sit right now, and maybe I'll change my mind, I don't know what I would have done differently, or could have done differently."

Minutes after the race, suspended driver Matt Kenseth tweeted, "Good work (at)JimmieJohnson! Textbook pass for the win at the end of the race when someone is trying to take your lane. (hash)quintessential"

After Logano chalked up contact with Kenseth at Kansas last month as aggressive racing for a win, NASCAR chairman Brian France referred to the move as "quintessential."

Logano got knocked from first to last among the eight championship contenders after being intentionally wrecked by Kenseth at Martinsville a week ago as payback. NASCAR then suspended Kenseth for two races, and his appeals were denied.

"Clearly he was watching and bored at home," Johnson said, when asked about Kenseth's tweet. "That's a nice buzz word. ... Thank you, buddy. I don't know how to even answer that."

Logano's title shot took another huge hit when he had a blown tire after only 10 laps at Texas, where he finished 66 laps back in 40th place.

Johnson led only six laps to get his fifth win of the season, his first in 20 starts and one within Dale Earnhardt for the seventh-most in NASCAR history. The No. 48 Chevrolet also won the spring race at Texas and is the first driver to win three consecutive Cup races at the high-banked, 1 1/2-mile track.

Harvick finished third, even after he twice had to come in to replace punctured tires after running over something on the track, and having to drive one-handed for a long stretch when he was having to hold on to the shifter to keep his car from popping out of gear.

"We just kept gouging away and everything worked out in the end," Harvick said.

Logano kept the No. 22 off the wall after spinning on the backstretch, but there was still significant damage to the rear fender and the inside of the car. He was 64 laps back when he returned to the track.

"The left rear tire came apart and shredded everything inside the car," Logano said. "It did a lot more damage than just the tire blowing apart."

The only one of the title contenders who finished outside of the top nine at Texas, Logano will have to win next week to get to the finale with a championship shot for the second year in a row.

Kenseth's streak of 571 consecutive starts, which was the second-longest active streak behind the Gordon's 795 in a row. Jimmie Johnson and Ryan Newmanhave each started 502 consecutive races since the 2002 Daytona 500.

Camping World Truck Series points leader Erik Jones took over in Kenseth's No. 22 Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing, and the 19-year-old driver finished 12th.

Tales of the Turtles 400 coming to Chicagoland Speedway Sept. 17

Tales of the Turtles 400 coming to Chicagoland Speedway Sept. 17

The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race, titled Tales of the Turtles 400, is coming to Joliet on Sept. 17, Chicagoland Speedway and Nickelodeon announced last week.

It will mark the seventh straight year Chicagoland Speedway will kick off NASCAR's playoffs.

Nickelodeon Sr. Vice President of Sports Marketing Anthony DiCosmo and President of Chicagoland Speedway Scott Paddock joined SportsTalk Live to discuss it all, and even had a few special guests join them as well.

Check it out in the video above.

Kurt Busch steals a monster of a win in Daytona 500

Kurt Busch steals a monster of a win in Daytona 500

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (AP) - Kurt Busch had a monster start to the season with a last-lap pass to win the crash-filled Daytona 500.

Busch is sponsored by Monster Energy, which kicked off its first season as the title sponsor for NASCAR's top series Sunday with the season-opener. It wasn't NASCAR finest moment, though, as multiple accidents pared down the field and had a mismatched group of drivers racing for the win at the end.

"The more that becomes unpredictable about Daytona, the more it becomes predictable to predict unpredictability," Busch said. "This car's completely thrashed. There's not a straight panel on it. The strategy today, who knew what to pit when, what segments were what. Everybody's wrecking as soon as we're done with the second segment.

"The more that I've run this race, the more that I just throw caution to the wind, let it rip and just elbows out. That's what we did."

It appeared to be pole-sitter Chase Elliott's race to lose, then he ran out of gas. So did Kyle Larson, Martin Truex Jr. and Paul Menard. As they all slipped off the pace, Busch sailed through for his first career Daytona 500 victory.

It also was the first Daytona 500 win for Stewart-Haas Racing, which is co-owned by Tony Stewart. The three-time champion retired at the end of last season and watched his four cars race from the pits.

"I ran this damn race (17) years and couldn't win it, so finally won it as an owner," Stewart said.

Ryan Blaney finished second in a Ford. AJ Allmendinger was third in a Chevrolet, and Aric Almirola was fourth for Richard Petty Motorsports.

The win was a huge boost for Ford, which lured Stewart-Haas Racing away from Chevrolet this season and celebrated the coup with its second Daytona 500 victory in three years. Joey Logano won in a Ford in 2015.

The first points race of the Monster era was run under a new format that split the 500 miles into three stages. Kyle Busch won the first stage, Kevin Harvick won the second stage and neither was a contender for the win. NASCAR also this year passed a rule that gave teams just five minutes to repair any damage on their cars or they were forced to retire.

But the race was slowed by wreck after wreck after wreck, including a 17-car accident at the start of the final stage that ended the race for seven-time and reigning series champion Jimmie Johnson and Danica Patrick. It was a particularly rough incident for Patrick and her Stewart-Haas Racing team, which had all four of its cars collected in the accident.

"Just seems like that could have been avoided and was uncalled for," Johnson said of the aggressive racing behind him that triggered the accident.