(Fort Woth, TX) - Jimmie Johnson in the #48 Lowe’s Ford fought his way from the back of the pack to capture his 7th career victory at Texas Motor Speedway in the O’Reilly Auto Parts 500. After starting in 24th position, Johnson was able to make it up to 2nd place by the end of stage two. Ryan Blaney won both stage one and two, but a mishap in pit lane near the end of the race forced him back to the 16th position on the final restart. Here’s how it all went down in No Limits, TX.
Before the race even got started Austin Dillon had to head back to the garage for a track arm issue under his DOW Energy & Water Chevrolet. Then just 3 laps into the race we saw our first caution for debris on the racetrack. Shortly after getting back to green flag racing, our second caution of the day came out on lap 10 as Jeffery Earnhardt in the #33 got loose and hit the #23 of Gray Gaulding coming out of turn two. That would end Earnhardt’s day early.
During the caution on lap 13, Austin Dillon in the #3 came back out on to the track after fixing his track arm issue on his car from earlier. On the green flag restart on lap 15, Ryan Blaney in the #21 Motorcraft Quick Lane Tire & Auto Center Ford passed Kevin Harvick on the back straightaway coming out of turn two to the lead. This was the first lead change of the race.
The field was then able to stay under the green flag until the scheduled competition caution came out on lap 30. As the cars came in for their first pit stops of the day, Erik Jones in the #77 5-Hour ENERGY Extra Strength Toyota got into the back of Chris Buescher in the #37 Scott Products Chevrolet entering pit road. This caused Buescher to get turned around in his pit stall as the front of the car faced turn four, and he took out his jack man. Since Buescher was still fully in his pit stall, the team was able to service the car. However, due to his jack man being taken out on the spinout, Ty Dillion’s jack man had to come over and help with the pit stop. At the time Buescher was running in 16th place after starting all the way back in 38th. This incident, however, pushed him to the back of the field.
After getting back to green flag racing on lap 36, the field seemed to get into a groove as they cruised through 49 laps of green flag racing. Ryan Blaney captured the stage 1 victory, earning 10 chase points and 1 playoff point. In 2nd place was Martin Truex Jr. in the #78 Bass Pro Shops TRACKER BOATS Toyota and Jamie McMurray in the #1 Sherwin-Williams Emerald Chevrolet rounded out the top 3.
Truex Jr. was able to win the race off of pit road. However, it was Blaney retaking the lead on the restart on lap 92 as the cars came out of turn 2. The field would stay under green until lap 123 as the caution came out for debris on the track in the front stretch. This time winning the race off of pit road was Ryan Blaney by just inches past Truex Jr. On the restart at lap 126, Truex Jr. tried to race for the lead on the outside as they went through turns 1 and tow. However, when the cars came out of turn two, Turex Jr. got too high on the track and fell all the way back to 9th as Jimmie Johnson in the #48 Lowe’s Chevrolet took second, and his teammate Dale Earnhardt Jr. in the #88 Axalta Chevrolet took 3rd.
On lap 165 the 6th caution of the race came out, this time for debris on the track in turn 1. This caution came out just 6 laps before the end of Stage two. Blaney and Johnson stayed on out, choosing not to pit. A decision that would cause a shake up in the field later on. Ryan Blaney would end up winning the 3 lap shootout to end stage two; this marked 148 laps led to this point by Blaney. However, he would need to pit during the stage caution, which would put the pole winner, Kevin Harvick back in first place as they went back to green flag racing on lap 178. After that, things really ran smoothly for everyone as far as accidents were concerned. We didn't have a new leader until Harvick pitted on lap 223, which put Brad Keselowski in the #2 Miller Lite Ford in the lead for the first time. Keselowski would be overtaken on lap 220 by Joey Logano. Then Truex Jr. who had been running near the top of the pack throughout the day until getting loose back on lap 126 when he fell back to 9th, was able to overtake Logano on lap 228.
Truex Jr. would lead the field in dominating fashion until making a green flag pitstop with just 61 laps to go in the race. This put Jimmie Johnson in the lead for the first time of the day. However, that would end quickly as Johnson then went into the pit after leading a lap. After green-flag stops had cycled through, Kevin Harvick found himself back out in front on lap 291 with Johnson close in his rearview mirror.
Then just 7 laps later we saw our 8th caution of the day for debris in turn 3 and 4, setting up a whale of a finish. Once the pits opened, most of the leaders came in for service. Since Joey Logano in the #22 Shell Pennzoil Ford pitted just 9 laps previously, he stayed out and took over the lead with just 32 laps left to go. In second was Harvick, in 3rd was Truex Jr. and Johnson in 4th.
Logano tried as he could to hold off Jimmie Johnson, but slowly but surely Johnson closed the gap. Then as they came to the start-finish line with 16 laps to go, Johnson made the pass to take the lead back. Then it was an open range to gallop on to victory as Johnson looked to pull away from Logano.
However, the fastest car on the track as the laps winded down was the #42 of Kyle Larson in 3rd place at the time. Unfortunately for Larson, he was unable to get by Logano in 2nd until 3 laps left. That was not enough though as Jimmie Johnson crossed the black and white checkered flag capturing his 7th career victory at Texas Motor Speedway and his first win of the season.
After the race, Larson expressed his confidence in getting by Jimmie if he had just a couple more laps to work with at the end. “I think if I could have got by Joey with maybe five to go, I think I could have -- I definitely would have caught Jimmie. Passing him is obviously another story. But I would have at least had a couple opportunities to get behind him and work there behind him and try and get by.”
Jimmie Johnson said after the race that he was unable to get fluids during the race and wasnt feeling that well. His crew cheif Chad Knaus addressed the fluid issue that took place inside Jimmie's car with the media after the race, "Yes, sir, there was. To be frank I don't know what that is yet. We've got to look at it and see what's happened there. I don't -- I really don't know. I can't comment on too much because I don't really know what happened. Jimmie felt like it was an isolated situation, but I really don't know a heck of a lot yet. He was hot after the race. He's a pretty tidy, lean, neat guy, and when things get hot, he can get hot pretty quick, but we got him cooled off and he's looking good. He's ready to go have a weekend off like the rest of us."
Johnson spent a long time in the infield care center and had to receive an IV after the race to replace lost fluids in his body. Something that many were wondering, if he thought about stopping in the pits to get the issue fixed, "I never even thought about that" , said Johnson after the race.
The full race lasted 3 hours and 24 minutes with Johnson winning by 0.340 seconds. Johnson led just 18 laps all day, but it was enough for the victory in the 2017 O’Reilly Auto Parts 500. Kyle Larson finished 2nd, Joey Logano finished 3rd, the pole sitter Kevin Harvick finished 4th, and Dale Earnhardt Jr. rounded out the top 5.
Written by Ryan Musich
Coming out of the caution, Ryan Blaney and Martin Truex Jr. would battle for lead position. Blaney would win that battle, as he would pull away on the back straight away. Truex would get loose on turn 2, and Jimmie Johnson =, Jamie McMurray and Dale Earnhardt Jr. would take advantage of that, as Johnson would enter into 2nd place, and Truex Jr. would fall all the way back to 9rd place. On lap 113, Truex Jr. would overtake Harvick for 2nd place.
Blaney would hold a pretty convincing lead the first 32 laps of stage two, as he would be 3 seconds ahead of 2nd place driver Martin Truex Jr. In lap 121 the first caution flag of stage 2 would come out for debris on the home stretch. Martin Truex Jr. would be able to almost overtake Ryan Blaney, but unfortunately for Truex Jr. Blaney would quickly shut the door on his pass attempt. Jimmie Johnson would make his best progress in stage two, as Johnson started in 11th place to start the 2nd stage. Johnson would jump all the way up to 2nd place.
Though Kevin Harvick was able to take 2nd place early in the stage, he would end up falling to 7th place. Harvick would not make it past 7th place the rest of the second stage. Jimmie Johnson would continuously close the gap between Johnson and Blaney. In lap 164, another caution would come out as more debris would be left on the racetrack. In lap 167, the race would get back underway and there would be a shootout to see who would win the 2nd stage. And the winner of stage two would be Ryan Blaney. Blaney would pick 10 points plus 1 playoff point as well.
Fort Worth, TX - #4 Kevin Harvick in the Jimmy John’s Ford would start in the pole position for the NASCAR Monster Energy Series O’Reilly Auto Parts 500. After a thrilling race yesterday from the Xfinity Series, the NASCAR Monster Energy Series would hope to get off to an electric start as well.
Before the race even started we had some drama, as the #3 car (Austin Dillon) was forced to head back to the garage due to a track bar incident. On lap 3 the caution flag came out, as debris appeared on the track. In lap 11 another caution occurred after the #15 made contact with the #33 in turn 2. The caution would occur during laps 11-15. After spending the first 13 laps in the garage due to track bar troubles, Austin Dillon returned to the race.
In lap 15 Ryan Blaney in the #21 Motorcraft/Quick Lane Tire & Auto Center Ford would take over the lead from Kevin Harvick on a slick outside move. At lap 30, the competition caution flag would come out, and Ryan Blaney would sit in the #1 spot with pole setter Kevin Harvick right behind him in 2nd place. Martin Truex Jr. would finish the 1st stage in 2nd place, with Kevin Harvick behind him in 3rd.
Ryan Blaney would end up winning the first stage and will earn 10 chase points and 1 playoff point. That will do it for the 1st stage. I’ll be back with the recap of the 2nd stage.
Written by Ryan Musich
(Ft. Worth, TX) After a fantastic and thrilling race last November, the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series take center stage at the newly renovated Texas Motor Speedway. There are a lot of questions going into the weekend because of new pavement that has been laid down since November, which is the last time NASCAR was in town. More questions surround turns 1 and 2 as the banking has been reduced from 24 degrees to 20 degrees, and the racing groove has been widened in those turns from 60 feet to 80 feet. Until today no driver had tested the newly renovated track. After hearing from drivers such as Clint Bowyer, Chris Buescher, Jimmie Johnson, and Trevor Bayne, the opinion differs on which modification to the track will play a bigger factor Sunday. Bowyer, Johnson, and Buescher said the reduction of the banking on turns 1 and 2 will play a bigger factor, but Bayne predicted the new pavement could be a bigger factor for the drivers. One thing all 3 drivers agreed on was that they thought most drivers would be tentative most of the race Sunday. Especially after 4 wrecks took place at Friday's practice.
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