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article imageNASCAR: Johnson wins Texas shootout, sights set on sixth title

By John Duarte     Nov 5, 2012 in Sports
Fort Worth - In a good-old-fashion showdown in Texas on Sunday afternoon, Jimmie Johnson out-dueled Brad Keselowski to win his second NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race in a row, his fifth of the year and hold on to the lead in the “Chase for the Sprint Cup.”
Johnson took full advantage of a late caution period and pulled away from Keselowski in a green-white-checkered finish to win the AAA Texas 500 at Texas Motor Speedway. The margin of victory was less than one second.
“That’s the first time that we’ve really engaged at that level and raced each other that hard,” Johnson said. “To his credit, he did a nice job of getting right to the edge, and we brought home race cars. We weren’t wadded up looking like a bunch of fools out there.”
Keselowski said he could have taken out Johnson and won the race, but “it didn’t seem right to wreck him.” Had Keselowski won the race, he would be leading the Chase for the Sprint Cup. But he takes heart in the fact that if he keeps driving the way he is and his car keeps performing, he will be hard to beat.
“I ran him hard today, and we’re going to keep him honest.” He added that he has to be in top form the rest of the way. “The way the points are right now, we still control our destiny. If we win the race, we get the points lead. That’s about all you can ask for, and we have the team to pull it off.”
But the closing laps of the race were all about the Johnson-Keselowski duel. The two raced side-by-side for a time, actually making slight contact with each other, before Keselowski built an eight-car lead. A late crash by Mark Martin, on Lap 331, set up a two-lap sprint to the green-white-checkered-flag. Watching it all unfold was Kyle Busch, who had finished second to Johnson a week earlier at Martinsville and ended up third in the race.
“Man, they were battling, and they battled hard, giving it everything they got,” said an impressed Busch after the race. “If you’re going to win a championship in the Sprint Cup Series, that’s what you’re going to have to make of it.”
The standings in the Chase for the Sprint Cup remain unchanged. Johnson leads Keselowski by seven points, with two races left in the 2012 season. Clint Bowyer is third, 36 points behind the leader.
The AdvoCare 500, at the Phoenix International Raceway on Nov. 11, is next on the Sprint Cup schedule and, then, it is back east to Homestead, Florida, and the final race of the year, the Ford EcoBoost 400 on Nov. 18.
For Johnson, heading for Phoenix is a great site. During his run of five consecutive Sprint Cup titles, from 2006 to 2010, Johnson won four-straight times at the race track between 2007 and 2009 and finished in the top five on four other occasions. Keselowski knows he has plenty of work to do if he is to win the championship.
“It’s probably a head’s-up match going into Phoenix and probably the same into Homestead. We just need to win the head’s-up matches,” Keselowski said. “I don’t expect to run the table. We’ll probably need to win one of the next two races.”
Johnson was a bit more stoic in his approach.
“I would like that race (Phoenix) to start right now,” he said.
More about Nascar, chase for the Sprint cup, Jimmie Johnson, Brad Keselowski, Auto racing
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