Jimmie Johnson ended up in a familiar place Sunday. After starting in the back of the field, Johnson fought his way forward to win at Texas Sunday. Here’s who it all went down.
From his second pole of the season Kevin Harvick led the field to the green; Ryan Blaney, Clint Bowyer, Joey Logano and Brad Keselowski followed. Texas is one of four tracks where Harvick has never won.
Austin Dillon fell out on the parade laps and went to the garage.
Harvick started on the inside, Blaney on the outside. Harvick had the lead by the exit of turn 2 as the outside line slid back. By the end of the first laps the top 12 were single file. Bowyer had second, Keselowski third. Kyle Busch starting from the rear nearly lost it on the outside entering turn 1 on lap 2.
The first caution came out on lap 3 for debris on the frontstretch.
Cole Whitt, Paul Menard and Daniel Suarez were the only cars to pit. Suarez suffered damage due to bumping cars on the outside line.
Harvick restarted on the outside on lap 6 to let Bowyer try and get second. He slid back and Blaney grabbed second, Bowyer dove into third. Again, the line was soon single file.
Jeffery Earnhardt spun, Reed Sorenson and Gray Gaulding got together directly behind on lap 11 in turn 2 and crashed; caution number 2 flew. Dillon came out from the garage during the caution.
Green came out on lap 16 this time, Harvick restarted on the inside. Blaney on the outside hung tough though and squeezed in front of Harvick for the lead. Bowyer was third followed by Logano and Keselowski. Logano took third a lap later.
Deeper the field, those who had started in the back due to going to back up cars and missing qualifying were fighting forward. Top among them Chase Elliott and Erik Jones who were 17th and 18th by lap 25.
Keselowski went to fourth on lap 27. The lead was 1.1 seconds for Blaney.
Due to the new surface, NASCAR has called for a competition caution for lap 30. It was caution number three and came out on lap 30. This time the leaders all pitted. The top five took only two tires. Harvick was out first followed by Blaney, Logano, Keselowski and Matt Kenseth. Kyle Larson, who has just made inside the top 10 was penalized for going through too many stalls and sent to the rear of the field.
Chris Buescher was tagged coming into the pits and spun; he stopped in his box backwards so the crew serviced the car.
Blaney restarted on the inside when green back out on lap 37, leader Harvick was on the outside. Blaney took the lead as Harvick fell back. Logano tired to take third from Bowyer, but he defended from the outside. Logano stayed close.
The battles were further back as cars were fighting to make it forward. Dale Earnhardt Jr. who started 31st by lap 46. Kyle Busch and Jimmie Johnson who also started in the rear were just behind.
Harvick dropped back on lap 50 to clean debris off his grill. He held his spot, but the lead for Blaney was up over three seconds.
Keselowski got wide in turn 2 on lap 60 he fell into seventh as Martin Truex Jr. took over fifth. He soon had fourth from Logano. He was looking for third a lap later. Truex took third on lap 65, as Earnhardt entered the top 10. Keselowski moved up to sixth. Larson grabbed 10th on lap 67. Truex took second from Harvick up front. The lead for Blaney was up to four seconds. Larson was eighth and continuing to move forward.
Truex had shortened the lead top under a second by lap 78 as Blaney weaved through lapped traffic.
With five laps to go in stage 1, Truex had caught Blaney. Jamie McMurray had rocketed to fourth., Keselowski fifth. McMurray took third on lap 83. Blaney was able to keep Truex at bay as stage 1 ended.
Top 10 Stage 1: Blaney, Truex, McMurray, Harvick, Keselowski, Larson., Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Logano, Kyle Busch.
The leaders all pitted. Truex was out first, Blaney second, Harvick third. Erik Jones came out fourth but took only two tires, McMurray was fifth. Kyle Busch, who was in the top 10, got some damage coming into the pits and re-pitted for further repairs. He restarted 28th.
Green came back out on lap 93; Blaney shot to the lead as Truex got loose on the inside. Harvick slid by for second, Truex took third. Jones was dropping back. McMurray was fourth, Keselowski fifth.
McMurray reported a loose wheel on lap 99, but said he would try to ride it out. Jones had fallen to fifth. Larson took fifth on lap 104. Johnson and Elliott were seventh and eighth. The lead was just over a second for Blaney.
The lead was up to 3 seconds by lap 113.
Caution for debris, number 5, came out on lap 121.
The leaders pitted. Blaney was out first, followed by Truex, McMurray, Johnson and Bowyer; all took two tires. Earnhardt came out sixth.
The restart came on lap 126. Blaney restarted on the inside; Truex tried to get the lead on the outside but nearly lost it. McMurray grabbed second as Truex fell back; Johnson was third, Earnhardt fourth, Bowyer fifth.
Johnson took second on lap 133. Larson took fifth two laps later.
Blaney’s lead was just over two seconds by lap 148.
Elliott took fourth from Larson on lap 157.
With 10 laps to go in stage 2 the lead was 1.7 seconds.
Debris in turn 1 brought out caution six on lap 164.
The top seven stayed out with the end of the stage looming. Most of the rest of the top 10 including Earnhardt and Harvick pitted.
The green came out on lap 167, three laps to the end of the second stage. Blaney restarted on the inside. Blaney took an easy lead, Johnson dropped into second, McMurray held off Elliott for third. Larson was soon looking for the spot and took it.
Top 10 Stage 2: Blaney, Johnson, McMurray, Larson, Elliott, Kurt Busch, Harvick, Keselowski, Earnhardt, Truex. This time the leaders all pitted. Those who had just pitted stayed out; Harvick led.
Off pit road Blaney was out first, Larson was second, followed by Johnson, Elliott and Kurt Busch. In all 19 drivers stayed out at the end of the stage.
The top five on the restart: Harvick, Keselowski, Earnhardt, Truex and Kyle Busch. Blaney restarted 20th with those who had pitted with him behind.
The restart came out on lap 178. Harvick took the lead on the outside; Earnhardt briefly took second, until Keselowski fought back on the outside and retook second; Earnhardt fell into third. Paul Menard nearly hit the wall exiting turn 2 but continued and pitted. He was suffering an electrical issue.
Logano took fifth from Truex on lap 184, Bowyer was fourth. Blaney had initially dropped back on the restart but made it back to 20th. Johnson was 15th.
Truex retook fifth on lap 189.
Johnson was 13th by 195; Blaney was 16th.
Larson was ninth by lap 202; Johnson was 11th, Blaney 14th.
Earnhardt went to second on lap 212. Truex retook second on lap 217. He was soon looking for the lead. He pitted though on lap 220 under green. Harvick and Earnhardt pitted on the next lap along with Kurt Busch and Bowyer. Elliott pitted a lap later along with McMurray, Larson and Blaney.
Keselowski had the lead until lap 224 when he pitted. Johnson pitted from second on lap 226, as Logano led.
When Logano pitted on lap 227, the stops had cycled through and Truex led Harvick by just over a second. Earnhardt Bowyer and Keselowski rounded out the top five. Blaney was 10th.
Keselowski took fifth on lap 239, Blaney had moved to 9th. Johnson took sixth on lap 241. He took fifth on lap 256.
Bowyer was dropping back by lap 259, Blaney passed him for eighth. The lead was 2.8 seconds for Truex.
Blaney took seventh from Elliott on lap 264.
Earnhardt pitted on lap 272, McMurray followed as did Truex. Harvick followed, Johnson and Keselowski came in a lap later. Truex had an issue on his stop and lost time.
Blaney almost crashed when Corey LaJoie nearly spun in turn 4.
Logano stayed out to lead, hoping for a caution. Behind the battle for the eventual lead was between Harvick, Truex and Johnson. Johnson took third from Truex on lap 285. He was soon on the bumper of Harvick.
Logano pitted on lap 289.
Harvick had the lead but Johnson was right there. Truex was third, Earnhardt fourth, followed by Larson and Keselowski. Kasey Kahne fell off the pace, and with a broken axle headed to the garage.
Caution, seven, came out for debris on lap 299 in turns 3 and 4.
The leaders all pitted. Having just pitted, Logano stayed out.
Harvick was out first, Johnson second, followed by Truex, Larson and Earnhardt; all took two tires. Blaney had issues on pit road and lost several spots. Blaney came out 16th.
The restart came on lap 305. Logano led followed by Harvick, Johnson, Truex and Larson. There were 20 cars on the lead lap.
Logano took the lead, but Johnson was close behind; Harvick fell into third. Larson and McMurray were fourth and fifth.
Logano was able to hold off Johnson as the field settled down with 25 to go.
With 20 to go, Johnson was still on the rear bumper of Logano.
Johnson finally took the lead on lap 318 as the two exited turn 4.
Harvick followed and was soon looking for second. Larson was close behind Harvick.
Larson took third from Harvick on lap 322 after getting Harvick loose exiting turn 2. Earnhardt held onto fifth.
With 10 to go, the lead for Johnson was nearing a second as Larson was looking for second from Logano.
The lead was just over a half a second with 5 laps to go.
Larson repeated the move on Logano he did on Harvick with two to go and grabbed second.
It wasn’t soon enough however and Johnson was able to win by just over .340 seconds.
Behind Larson, Logano was third, Harvick fourth, and Earnhardt fifth. Keselowski was sixth, McMurray seventh, Truex eighth with Elliott and Kurt Busch rounding out the top 10.
NASCAR is off next weekend. The Cup series returns at Bristol Motor Speedway for the Food City 500 on April 23.