Jimmie Johnson relishes his role as Chase frontrunner

Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe’s Chevrolet, looks on in the garage during practice for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series AAA Texas 500 at Texas Motor Speedway on November 2, 2012 in Fort Worth, Texas. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

FORT WORTH, Tex. — Jimmie Johnson admits there’s added stress in being the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup points leader, but the driver of the No. 48 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet wouldn’t have it any other way.

Johnson seized the lead — albeit a narrow one — by winning last Sunday’s Cup race at Martinsville from the pole. With three races left in the Chase, Johnson is two points ahead of Brad Keselowski and 26 in front of third-place Clint Bowyer.

“I think there’s more pressure on the points leader, but there’s more control as the points leader,” Johnson said Friday before the first Cup practice session at Texas Motor Speedway. “Just a week ago, I was sitting there seven back thinking, ‘OK, if I got two (points) a weekend or if I got three a weekend,’ or how you play that game.

“Right now I don’t have to think about that. There’s the pressure to maintain, but I would much rather be leading the points than be anywhere else. “

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