AAA Texas 500: Race, Qualifying & Practice

Published on November 9th, 2014

Jimmie Johnson celebrates in Victory Lane

As Nascar returned to Texas Motor Speedway for the AAA Texas 500, tensions were high with the championship on the line. This year has been a bit different for Nascar’s Sprint Cup Series. With a set up that required racers to win a race to get into the Chase for the Sprint Cup, it has made racing more exciting. Less about points (which are still important though) and more about winning races and performing well. The championship series has changed to an elimination format so by the time the drivers were loading into Texas there were only 8 drivers left. The best part is, while there are clear leaders there are no guarantees and it’s fair game. No one has a real big advantage and points don’t matter if one of the four contending drivers actually wins it at Homestead in a couple weeks.

Confused Yet? It takes some getting used to. But it’s definitely easier to understand and it adds some much needed excitement to the sport.

The track was fast and fun during practice and Qualifying on Friday. Giving way to the top speed of 200 miles per hour. A new track record held by Tony Stewart. While Tony reached the fastest speed on a qualifying lap, it wasn’t as consistent as Matt Kenseth’s lap and Matt took the pole position when knock out qualifying was all said and done.

The chase was shuffled a bit on Sunday when Jimmie Johnson who’s been elimated from the chase held off the pack for a defending win at TMS. But it wasn’t an easy go for Johnson on Sunday. Matt Kenseth the pole sitter started off strong, quite possibly the fastest car on the track, until a catastrophic pit stop that put him down by four seconds, and that was it. He never was able to make it up on the track.

Johnson took the lead and held it for a long time. Only every losing it to his teammate Jeff Gordon for a little bit. The first 200 laps or so of the race had a couple cautions and mostly greenflag pit stops, leaving the pack to spread out and just race. But as the sun set, Kasey Kahne got into Brian Vickers, causing one of the 13 cautions. Then shortly later Kahne took a spin in the grass causing another caution, and then blew a tire a few laps later taking him out of the race, along with another caution.

As the race wound down tensions arose and things got heated on the track. Brad Keslowski dug in trying to pass Gordon and ended up getting into his side and cutting the 24 cars tire. Taking Gordon out of the running for the win. After a couple more restarts and a Green, White, Checkered finish. Jimmie Johnson had held Harvick and Keselowski off and taken the win to defend his title and become the most winning driver at Texas Motor Speedway.

Gordon was not thrilled with Keselowski after the checkered flag had flown. Fist flying on pit road turning into an all out team brawl. Bloody lips and not much to show for it all except a little post race excitement. Keselowski defends that he was just racing at 100 percent.. clearly this chase format is stressful and getting the best of everyone at this point.

Johnson’s winning ultimately shook the chase up so much, that 3 drivers that will make the final round in Homestead will likely be decided by points. Making those points less important and still vital to the game! The results next week in Phoenix will be the ultimate deciding factor. But it’s not looking good for Jeff Gordon, Carl Edwards, or Matt Kenseth at this point. Everyone else still stands a chance. If I had to pick based on performance this year alone I’d probably pick Joey Logano, but I definitely wouldn’t count out Kevin Harvick.

We will know soon who the 2014 Sprint Cup Champion will be. Good luck boys!

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