Jimmie Johnson closes out Texas race for first win of 2017 season

Johnson triumphs at Texas after Ryan Blaney falters on final pit stop

Jerome Miron—X02835
Apr 9

The drought to open the NASCAR season has ended for Hendrick Motorsports as Jimmie Johnson won the O’Reilly Auto Parts 500 at Texas Motor Speedway.Granted, that “drought” lasted just six races, but that seems like a lifetime for the Hendrick juggernaut. Johnson, the defending Spring Cup champion, alluded to the questions about what is wrong with Chevrolet’s top team. The answer? Nothing.”I guess I remembered how to drive,” Johnson said with a laugh. “I guess this team remembered how to do it! I’m just real proud of this team. What a tough track and tough conditions. We were really in our wheelhouse and we were just able to execute all day.”It was Johnson’s seventh win at Texas, the most of any active driver. Despite the hot day in the Lone Star State, Johnson fought to get up front and finally get in Victory Lane this season”Oh, it was hot in there,” Johnson said. “I got cooked in the car today. I didn’t have any fluids so I’m not feeling the best, but we got into Victory Lane. I’m so proud of the fight in this race team. I can’t wait to celebrate during this off-weekend with my family and friends and really enjoy this.”Kyle Larson passed Logano with two laps to go to finish second. Logano, Kevin Harvick and Dale Earnhardt Jr. rounded out the top five. Harvick and Martin Truex Jr. combined to lead most of the third stage until Logano stretched his fuel mileage and pitted later during two cycles of pit stops.After leading most of the first half of the race, Ryan Blaney and several other frontrunners, including Johnson and Larson, were shuffled back through the field by pit strategy. Blaney won the first two 85-lap stages of the race, but was forced to pit during the second stage caution after staying out on four old tires.The No. 21 found its way back in the top 10 during the final caution, but Blaney overshot his pit box and couldn’t recover in the final laps. Despite earning two playoff points for the stage wins, Blaney became the second driver — along with Kevin Harvick — to win two stages and not win the race.”That last pit stop was pretty discouraging,” Blaney said. “We got back in that third debris caution. … We made our way up to seventh or eight and then pitted and I got into our box too long and we were wedged in between two cars. “I was over the line by a few inches. That sucked. I put us in that hole. We probably should have stayed out looking back on it but that is easy to do.”Rounding out the top five were Kyle Larson, Joey Logano, Kevin Harvick and Dale Earnhardt Jr. The top-five result for Earnhardt Jr. was his first of the season after being shut out of the top 10 in the first six races.Jimmie JohnsonKyle LarsonJoey LoganoKevin HarvickDale Earnhardt Jr.Brad KeselowskiJamie McMurrayMartin Truex Jr.Chase ElliottKurt BuschClint BowyerRyan BlaneyTrevor BayneRicky Stenhouse Jr.Kyle BuschMatt KensethTy DillonAric AlmirolaDaniel SuarezA.J. AllmendingerChris BuescherErik JonesMichael McDowellDanica PatrickDenny HamlinRyan NewmanJ.J. YeleyDavid RaganLandon CassillCole WhittMatt DiBenedettoCorey LaJoieAustin DillonGray GauldingReed SorensonPaul MenardDerrike CopeKasey KahneTimmy HillJeffrey Earnhardt