Seven-time picks up seventh Texas victory


By Dominic Aragon
April 9, 2017

FORT WORTH, Texas—Jimmie Johnson led the final 17 laps of the O’Reilly Auto Parts 500 Sunday en route to his first victory of 2017 and seventh overall in NASCAR’s premiere series at Texas Motor Speedway.

The seven-time Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series champion won with a margin of victory of .34 seconds over second-place finisher Kyle Larson.

“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.”

STAGE ONE (LAPS 1-85)
Choosing the inside lane, pole sitter Kevin Harvick and Ryan Blaney led the field to the green flag.

Prior to a lap 32 NASCAR-mandated competition caution, the caution flag flew twice in the opening 11 laps; once for debris and the other for a three-car accident involving Jeffrey Earnhardt, Gray Gaulding and Reed Sorenson.

Harvick led the opening 15 laps. The stage saw three lead changes, all between Harvick and Blaney.

Ryan Blaney led the final 49 laps in the stage en route to winning it. Martin Truex Jr. was second and Jamie McMurray third.

STAGE TWO (LAPS 86-170)
With 28 cars on the lead lap, Martin Truex Jr. and Ryan Blaney restarted on the front row.

Blaney reclaimed the lead on lap 93, leading a total of 77 laps en route to a win in the stage. Jimmie Johnson was second and Martin Truex Jr. finished third.

STAGE THREE (LAPS 171-334)
28 cars restarted on the lead lap at the beginning of the third stage with Kevin Harvick bringing the field to the green flag.

The lead swapped a total of nine times in the final stage between five drivers.

A debris caution with 33 laps to go saw varying strategy, with Joey Logano claiming the lead by electing to stay out during pit stops under caution.

Logano led the field to the green on the final restart, but Johnson made the final pass for the lead on the 2014 spring Texas winner with 17 laps to go.

OVERALL
Jimmie Johnson collected his 81st career win in the MENCS.

The race featured 16 lead changes with six different leaders. Ryan Blaney, who finished 12th, led the most laps at 148 circuits.

20 drivers finished on the lead lap with 38 of the 40 drivers running at the finish.

Entering the next race at Bristol Motor Speedway, Kyle Larson holds a 17 point lead over Chase Elliott in the driver’s standings.

The No. 17 of Ricky Stenhouse Jr. had a missing lug nut, per a NASCAR official. No word at time of publication on a possible penalty Stenhouse could face.

IMAGES
Jeremy Thompson/The Racing Experts

SOURCES
NASCAR Media Group
Racing-Reference.info

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