Photo by: Sarah Crabill
If there were any doubts about Jimmie Johnson’s winning ways before the O’Reilly Auto Parts 500, they were put to rest at Texas Motor Speedway.
Johnson earned his first win of the 2017 season after starting from the back. A spin in qualifying caused the Lowe’s Chevrolet team to change tires before making his 550th career start.
“I guess I remembered how to drive, and I guess this team remembered how to do it,” Johnson said. “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.”
Johnson led twice for a total of 18 laps toward the 81st victory of his Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series career. Johnson retook the lead on Lap 318 after a debris caution allowed for the No. 22 of Joey Logano to gamble.
Sunday’s race at Texas was the first since the repavement and reconfiguration that lowered the banking of the 1.5-mile track by four degrees.
Ryan Blaney finished 12th after a dominating performance that scored him two stage wins, but a mistake by the Wood Brothers Racing driver on pit road sent him rallying for positions.
“Not a bad day for us,” Blaney said, “It’s nice to win a couple segments, but I want to lead the last lap. That’s the lap I care about, but I thought we made a big gain today as a team.”
Blaney led a career-high of 148 laps before sliding through his pit box on Lap 301.
Kyle Larson extended the standings lead after a second place finish. Logano and Harvick finished third and fourth, respectively, and Dale Earnhardt Jr. earned his first top-5 finish of the year.
NASCAR returns to Bristol on April 23rd on FOX.