Jimmie Johnson is a seven-time Cup Series champion and now a seven-time winner at Texas Motor Speedway.
The 2016 Cup champion ran down Joey Logano after the final restart of the race and beat Kyle Larson to the line for his first win of the season. Logano had the lead off the restart because he didn’t pit; but succumbed to Johnson’s fresher tires with 17 laps to go.
Sunday’s race, the seventh of the season, was the first on the new pavement and configuration at Texas. The 1.5-mile track was completely repaved after 2016 and turns 1 and 2 were flattened out by four degrees. It didn’t take long for Johnson and his team — winners of six of the last nine races on the old surface — to know that they had a car capable of winning at the new Texas.
“Probably the second or third run I knew we were in good shape,” Johnson said. “From there, off we went. It was so tough those first 20 or 30 laps in traffic.”
Johnson started Sunday’s race at the back of the field because of a slide he had in Friday’s qualifying session. after putting up a fast lap in the first round, his car snapped loose entering turns 1 and 2 and slid to a stop. The slide meant Johnson had flat-spotted tires and was forced to change before the start of the race.
With NASCAR’s new rules requiring drivers to start the race with the tires they used for qualifying, Johnson had to pick his way through the field at the start on the tricky one-lane track.
The win is a bounceback of sorts for Johnson after a rough first six weeks of the season. Well, rough by Johnson’s standards. While he had just one top-10 finish through the first sixth of the season, Johnson wasn’t too worried. He knew he was going to win somewhere sooner than later as evidenced by his quip as soon as he got out of his car in victory lane.
“I guess I remembered how to drive; and I guess this team remembered how to do it,” Johnson said.
Though perhaps Johnson’s “slow” start made the sponsor of the race forget how to spell his name. O’Reilly Auto Parts twice congratulated a “Jimmy” Johnson shortly after the checkered flag.
— Gordonrox24 (@gordonrox24) April 9, 2017
Kyle Larson passed Logano for second before the end of the race. It’s Larson’s fourth second-place of the season and the driver of the No. 42 easily maintains his lead in the points standings.
– – – – – – –