Johnson and Keselowski continue gloves off mentality in Texas

Seven weeks ago Jimmie Johnson and Brad Keselowski started the Chase by finishing first and second at Chicago. In doing so, they traded words about what took place during the race, disagreeing, of course. [media-credit name=”Getty Images for NASCAR” align=”alignright” width=”235″][/media-credit]

Sunday night in Texas he was more of the same. This time around, Johnson was the one finishing first. Keselowski was close behind in second, remaining second in the point standings to Johnson. Oh, and there’s two races remaining on the season.

But, that’s not what they were jabbing about afterwards. Again, it was how they raced each other on track. In Chicago the issue was blend lines coming off pit road. In Texas it was restarts and caution flags.

Keselowski was leading late, Johnson running third and he wasn’t happy about it. After a restart on lap 315, Johnson radioed, “Come on NASCAR, look at the tape. That’s bull[expletive].” Keselowski, he said, had jumped the restart and gotten away with it.

“It seemed real early to me, it caught the 18 [Kyle Busch, who also thought Keselowski went early and said there must be no restart rules] off guard and myself,” said Johnson after the race.

“It seemed early. We have this grey area exiting on the racetrack off turn two when you leave the pits. Two weeks ago we had a hard reference point, this week we don’t. It’s just in the area. And we all know at Chicago the situation that was there.

“On the frontstretch for the restart there are two lines that are there for a reason. I felt like he went real early and caught us both off guard.”

Crew chief Chad Knaus quickly calmed Johnson down, refocusing him on running Keselowski and his two tires down. Johnson had four tires and two more cautions and restarts were just enough for him to clear Keselowski going into turn one on the green-white-checkered finish.

It was Johnson’s second straight win, second win at Texas, his fifth of the season. It was also his second straight win from the pole after leading the most laps. But Keselowski made no bones afterwards that Johnson had a little help. Making it clear that in this dogfight to the finish, neither one is willing to give or concede an inch.

On the track, the battle was just as fierce. The two were up front running hard all day, leading laps and never letting the other out of their sights. Johnson lead seven times for 168 laps, where Keselowski led five times for 75 laps. They even made contact while racing for the lead on lap 327 with Keselowski emerging the leader. Johnson pulled alongside Keselowski when the caution flew a few laps later to let him know it wasn’t over.

“I just pointed at him and wanted him to use his head, there’s no sense in taking us both out in the process. If he was taking me out, you can count on the fact that I would have been in the gas and trying to take him with him,” said Johnson.

“Just doesn’t need to come down to that. Brad also, after the race came into Victory Lane and shook my hand. The cool thing about it is, we walked right up to that line, we got right to the edge and then it stopped. He showed a very class move coming to Victory Lane and shaking my hand afterwards, too.”

Both said it was just hard racing, something that will continue to the finish of the Chase. A caution from a Mark Martin spin with five laps to go set up the races final restart, a GWC finish. Johnson beat Keselowski to the line but NASCAR made no call for a penalty.

“Every restart I didn’t have very good drive today for some reason,” said Keselowski. “Every restart I spun the tires. Just one them deals, and we fought through it the best we could. Just one of them deals.” He acknowledged that it was probably fair play on both sides, since NASCAR isn’t going to measure it.

Johnson’s side, “Yeah, he spun them pretty bad, I was pedaling trying to let him catch up as he got to the start- finish and then he kind of surged past right at it or just past it. NASCAR’s been aware of that in the past and allows you, if you give that nose back, you’re in good shape.”

Going forward, Johnson says he’s in control of the championship and Keselowski knows it won’t be easy to catch him. He lost ground to Johnson today and they head next for a track that Johnson has won four times at. But Keselowski’s still happy with his position, proud of how he and his team are performing. The best is bringing brought out of everyone, and running for a championship is fun. And just as he said to his team after the checkered flag on Sunday, he refuses to lose this championship.

“It don’t feel good, but there is a part of you that just feels like you’re first in class,” said Keselowski about finishing second to Johnson. “When you catch the breaks that he caught today with the yellows and then you execute like they can, you’re unbeatable. I’m confident that we can execute at a high level. I’m confident that the way it’s worked over the last three weeks — we haven’t caught good breaks or bad breaks, and he’s caught several really good ones.

“I’m confident that that will come back around, and when it does, we’ll change these seconds and fifths or whatever they are over the last few weeks into wins. I feel like that’s bound to happen over the next two weeks, and we have the team to pull it off. I also feel like the way the points are right now, we still control our own destiny, which is if we win the race, we get the points lead. So, that’s all you can ask for.”

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of


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