Jimmie Johnson, Kasey Kahne finish in top 11 at Texas
FORT WORTH, Texas – Jimmie Johnson recorded the sixth-place result in Saturday night’s NASCAR Sprint Cup event at Texas Motor Speedway and retains the lead in the driver standings. Kasey Kahne joined Johnson in the top 11, while their Hendrick Motorsports teammates Jeff Gordon and Dale Earnhardt Jr. were impacted by different issues during the 334-lap event.
Johnson scored his fifth top-10 result of the 2013 season. Kahne crossed the line 11th, while Earnhardt was scored 29th, and Gordon was 38th.
Here is the race recap by team:
Kasey Kahne, No. 5 Time Warner Cable Chevrolet SS
Race finish: 11th.
Recap: Kasey Kahne opened Saturday night’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series event at Texas Motor Speedway from the 14th position and hovered inside the top 15 during the first 21 laps. The driver of the No. 5 Time Warner Cable Chevrolet SS was quiet on the radio as the sun set on the 1.5-mile Texas oval. Kahne reported that his Chevrolet was experiencing a loose-handling condition, and he worked with crew chief Kenny Francis to address the issue. As the race unfolded, Kahne improved his running position to 12th by Lap 75 and then cracked the top 10 by Lap 182. Kahne reported that the car was getting better as the race continued, and he was running seventh when the caution flag was waved on Lap 223. He lined up sixth for the restart with 106 laps to go. Kahne held his position and improved to run fifth when the caution flag was waved 57 laps later. Green-flag stops began just prior to that yellow flag, and Kahne committed to pit road just after the caution flag was displayed. Afraid of running out of fuel, the No. 5 team went ahead and stopped and accepted the penalty NASCAR subsequently issued – pitting when pit road was closed. When the field reset, Kahne had to line up at the end of the longest line; in this case 16th. He improved to 12th when the caution flag was waved again and stopped with 20 circuits to go. He lined up 12th for the restart with 16 laps left and picked up one position to cross the finish line 11th.
Jeff Gordon, No. 24 Cromax Pro Chevrolet SS
Race finish: 38th.
Recap: Jeff Gordon rolled off the grid eighth on Saturday at Texas Motor Speedway and improved to sixth within the first seven circuits. Crew chief Alan Gustafson radioed to Gordon that his lap times were looking good, and despite a tight-handling condition, the driver of the No. 24 Cromax Pro Chevrolet SS continued to hold his position inside the top six. Gordon, who climbed into fourth by the time the caution flag was waved on Lap 38, picked up another spot on pit road thanks to a swift four-tire and fuel stop. Gustafson told Gordon the tires were showing small cracks, and Gordon restarted the race being mindful of his tire wear. By the time the caution flag was waved on Lap 81, he had climbed into third. Yet again, the No. 24 team benefited from another solid pit stop and Gordon improved to second after getting tires, fuel and a slight adjustment. By Lap 179, Gordon was chasing then-leader Kyle Busch, and he took over the top spot by Lap 188. Gordon paced the field for 13 circuits before stopping under green-flag conditions for four tires, fuel and an adjustment to loosen up the No. 24 Chevy SS. He was running third by Lap 207 when green-flag stops had cycled through. Despite a difficult-turning car, Gordon was back in the leader position with 54 laps to go when the caution flag was waved at Texas. Gordon stopped for four tires, fuel and returned to line up third for the restart with 47 laps to go. When the green flag dropped, Gordon started chasing first-place Martin Truex Jr. and second-place Kyle Busch. With 25 laps remaining, the driver of the No. 24 Chevy SS was notified of a burnt left-front hub and had to give up his bid for a second Texas victory as he reported to the garage. “That’s unfortunate guys,” Gordon told his team over the radio. “Great job today.” Gordon was scored with a 38th-place finish.
Jimmie Johnson, No. 48 Lowe’s Dover White Chevrolet SS
Race finish: Sixth.
Recap: Jimmie Johnson began Saturday night’s NASCAR Sprint Cup event at Texas in seventh and was running fourth within the first two laps. He told crew chief Chad Knaus that the No. 48 Lowe’s Dover White Chevrolet SS was running a little loose during the opening stretch and hit pit road when the caution flag was waved on Lap 38. After a four-tire stop, Johnson improved to second. By Lap 57, he reported a big improvement on the rear grip up off the corner. Sixteen laps later, Johnson was running third on an almost completely shaded Texas Motor Speedway. He improved to second as the caution flag was waved on Lap 80 and discussed chassis adjustments with Knaus. As the sun set on the 1.5-mile Texas track, Johnson noted that the handling was shifting from loose to tight. He encountered a slight setback during a four-tire pit stop under caution on Lap 151, and he slipped to eighth on the board. Johnson picked up a spot on the restart and continued his climb again through the field. By Lap 206, he was running fourth and reported to Knaus that the No. 48 Chevy SS appeared better on the long run, but admitted he was confused why he couldn’t catch the leaders when his car felt “pretty efficient.” As the race wound down, Johnson, Knaus and the No. 48 team were unable to find more speed at the 1.5-mile speedway, but pitted just ahead of a late-race caution period. Johnson held his position inside the top 11 and pitted when the caution flag was waved with 20 laps remaining. He lined up seventh for the restart with 16 laps left and picked up one position to cross the finish line sixth.
Dale Earnhardt Jr., No. 88 National Guard Chevrolet SS
Race finish: 29th.
Recap: Dale Earnhardt Jr. was the second-fastest Chevrolet SS during Friday’s qualifying session and lined up sixth for Saturday’s NASCAR Sprint cup event at Texas Motor Speedway. On Lap 10, Earnhardt reported that his No. 88 National Guard Chevrolet SS was “sliding the nose off the corner,” and two laps later was “loose in and off” yet “tight in the center.” Crew chief Steve Letarte planned for adjustments and when the caution flag waved on Lap 38, Earnhardt hit pit road for four tires, fuel and wedge. Earnhardt picked up five spots during the stop, restarting eighth when the track returned to green-flag conditions. A tight-handling condition returned, but Earnhardt held steady in the top 11 and once again under caution, his team helped him pick up three spots on pit road. As the race unfolded, Earnhardt climbed his way into third when misfortune struck on Lap 188. Earnhardt was battling for third on Lap 190 when he told Letarte that he was heading for pit road. “I think the battery is dead or something,” Earnhardt radioed as he approached his stall. The No. 88 team confirmed the issue, addressed the alternator and battery and sent Earnhardt back onto the track off the lead lap. To further add to the frustration, NASCAR alerted the No. 88 team that Earnhardt was too fast entering pit road and would have to serve a pass-through penalty. By Lap 200, Earnhardt was running four laps down. Still Earnhardt remained on track for valuable points in the driver standings. He finished 29th.