STREAK CONTINUES: Since Texas Motor Speedway began hosting two Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series races beginning in 2005, no driver has successfully defended the title of the O’Reilly Auto Parts 500. With his victory Sunday, Jimmie Johnson has won two of the last three, which is the best result a driver has put together in a three-year span in race history.
EXTENDING DOMINANCE: Jimmie Johnson increased his all-time MENCS victory mark at Texas Motor Speedway as he won for the seventh time in Sunday’s O’Reilly Auto Parts 500. Carl Edwards is second with four.
MY HOUSE: In addition to owning the track record for Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series career victories with seven, Jimmie Johnson also extended a few other Texas Motor Speedway records for the series. In 28 TMS career starts, he leads all Cup drivers in top-five finishes (15), top-10 finishes (21) and laps led (1,041).
COMING THROUGH: Sunday’s O’Reilly Auto Parts 500 winner Jimmie Johnson made it to Victory Lane after starting at the rear of the 40-car field due to an unapproved tire change moved him back from his 24th qualifying position. Kyle Larson finished second after starting 32nd and Dale Earnhardt Jr. was fifth after starting 37th.
This marked just the third time in 33 NASCAR Cup Series races at Texas that three of the top five drivers had finished that high after starting 24th or lower. The most recent prior to Sunday was the 2009 Dickies 500 when Denny Hamlin (finished 2nd, started 25th), Matt Kenseth (3rd, 30th) and Kevin Harvick (5th, 24th) moved from the back to finish in the top five. The other time was at the 2002 Samsung/Radio Shack 500 when Kenseth won after starting 31st, Jeff Gordon was second after starting 26th and Tony Stewart was fifth after starting 29th.
SECOND HOME: Through the first six races of the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series season, Hendrick Motorsports and Joe Gibbs Racing were without a win. That drought ended for Hendrick Motorsports with Jimmie Johnson’s victory. Those two teams have now combined to win nine of the last 10 Cup races at Texas with Hendrick accounting for six of those.
VIDEO OF THE WEEK: Watch Jimmie Johnson’s post-race interview from Victory Lane.
SECOND DOESN’T SUCK: Kyle Larson had a streak of finishing either first or second in four consecutive races come to an end a week ago in Martinsville. He did make it five out of six races with a second-place finish in the O’Reilly Auto Parts 500. He continues to be the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series points leader with a 17-point lead over Chase Elliott.
“They’re (second-place finishes) all kind of easy to swallow, just because we have a lot of speed in our cars right now,” he said. “Seconds don’t suck that bad. I’d like to have five wins right now, but four seconds and a win isn’t terrible.”
His second-place finish gave him his third top-10 finish in eight races at Texas Motor Speedway. It also was his fifth top-10 finish in 2017. Looking at his recent run of success a little further, his runner-up finish is the seventh time in the past nine races that he has finished third or better. This also gives him three consecutive runner-up finishes on similarly configured, 1.5-mile tracks like Texas Motor Speedway. It was also his best career finish at Texas Motor Speedway in eight Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series starts. His previous best was fifth in this event in 2014.
NO PROBLEM: Chad Knaus, crew chief for race winner Jimmie Johnson, came into the race weekend without a lot of information after the track was repaved and re-configured, But that didn’t seem to matter as he and his driver won for the seventh time at Texas Motor Speedway.
“Coming here, we knew that it was going to be a challenge,” Knaus said. “We didn’t have any data from the race track. We didn’t know how to set up our simulation, so we had to do a lot of it kind of old school. It really worked out well. I was very impressed with the way NASCAR and everybody here at Texas Motor Speedway worked throughout the course of the night to get the groove widened out (dragging tires), and the track really got pretty racy there at the end. It was a lot of fun to be able to come out here and race with this new race track.”
STILL SEARCHING: This list of drivers all added one more to the number of starts they have made in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series without a win at Texas. They are Kevin Harvick (29), Jamie McMurray (27), Martin Truex Jr. (24), Clint Bowyer (23), Paul Menard (22) and David Ragan (21).
LONG TIME COMING: Rookie Ryan Blaney, who finished 12th in the O’Reilly Auto Parts 500, won the first two stages and led four times for a race-high 148 laps. The last time a Wood Brothers Racing driver led 100 laps or more in a Cup race was Neil Bonnett at Rockingham (N.C.) Speedway on Oct. 31, 1982. Blaney came into Sunday’s race having led just 33 laps in his brief Cup career.
HARVICK EXTENDS TOP-10 STREAK: Kevin Harvick finished fourth in the O’Reilly Auto Parts 500 for his sixth consecutive top-10 finish at Texas Motor Speedway and ninth in his last 11. He led 77 laps in Sunday’s race after leading just 116 in his previous 28 career starts at Texas Motor Speedway.
MONSTER ENERGY NASCAR CUP SERIES PIT STOPS: Dale Earnhardt Jr. finished fifth in the O’Reilly Auto Parts 500 at Texas Motor Speedway, which was his first top-10 since June of last year when he was second at Pocono. That finish was his fifth consecutive top-six Cup performance at Texas Motor Speedway. That streak does not include November’s AAA Texas 500, which he missed due to the concussion that sidelined him for the final 18 races of the 2016 season…After four consecutive results of 24th or worse, Kurt Busch finished 10th Sunday. That finish lifted Busch back into the top 16 in points…Chase Elliott finished ninth, which was his third consecutive top-10. He has had a consistent run recently as his worst result in the past 11 races is a 14th—place finish at Daytona. He has finished among the top-10 in all three career Cup starts at Texas Motor Speedway…Martin Truex Jr. finished eighth Sunday, which was his fifth consecutive top-10 finish at Texas. It was also his fourth consecutive top-10 on one of the similarly configured 1.5-mile tracks. His team now has a 26-race streak of finishing on the lead lap on 1.5-mile tracks…Brad Keselowski finished sixth at Texas which was the first time since the Daytona 500 that he failed to be inside the top five…Joey Logano finished third which was his third consecutive top-five finish this season. He has now finished in the top-10 in 12 of the last 13 races…Kyle Busch finished 15th in the O’Reilly Auto Parts 500, marking only the second time in his last nine Cup starts at Texas Motor Speedway that he did not finish among the top five.
CRAZY TRAIN: Rock ‘n roll legend Ozzy Osbourne and his son Jack served as Honorary Race Directors for Sunday’s O’Reilly Auto Parts 500 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race and gave the command of “Drivers To Your Cars.” Ozzy also watched the start of the race from the pit box of reigning Daytona 500 champion Kurt Busch of Stewart-Haas Racing. The Osbournes took in the race to air as one of their upcoming episodes of “Ozzy and Jack’s World Detour” show on The History Channel.
MY BARIATRIC SOLUTIONS RECAP: Erik Jones skipped his high school graduation ceremony three years ago to run in a NASCAR truck race at Texas, where he was presented his actual diploma before the event. Two years ago, he went to Victory Lane at Texas Motor Speedway for the first time in the NASCAR XFINITY Series. He won again Saturday at the 1.5-mile track.
“Yeah, it’s been a good track for me,” Jones said. “The first time I came here, it’s funny, it really wasn’t that good to me, but after that it just kind of clicked and I felt really good here ever since.”
Jones led 112 of 200 laps for his seventh career XFINITY victory, four of them coming on 1.5-mile tracks. Jones finished a half-second ahead of Ryan Blaney, another full-time Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series driver. Blaney led 43 laps and went into his final pit stop still with the lead before Jones went back in front for good on Lap 156. Kevin Harvick finished third and was followed by Austin Dillon and Cole Custer, respectively. Darrell “Bubba” Wallace won stage two after Harvick won the first stage of the race.
Elliott Sadler retained the XFINITY season points lead after a 10th-place finish.
CUP STILL RUNNETH OVER: Since Texas Motor Speedway began hosting two XFINITY races beginning in 2005, Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series drivers running in the series have now won 21 of the 25 races after the Erik Jones victory Saturday.
SIX SHOOTER: Darrell “Bubba” Wallace Jr. found himself in a familiar place after Saturday’s My Bariatric Solutions 300 when he finished sixth. Outside of a crash-derailed, 33rd-place effort at the XFINITY Series’ season opener at Daytona, Wallace has finished sixth in every single race. All of those finishes have added up to him being fourth in the standings, 49 points behind leader Elliott Sadler. NASCAR Hall of Famer Jack Ingram finished runner-up in the series six consecutive times in 1983 — the longest streak of consistency in the series.
NASCAR XFINITY SERIES PIT STOPS: With his victory in Saturday’s My Bariatric Solutions 300, Erik Jones has finished among the top four in all five career NASCAR XFINITY Series starts at Texas Motor Speedway. He also recorded a win in his first XFINITY Series start at Texas in this event in 2015. Jones has qualified among the top three in every start as well, including a pole that led to his win in 2015. … Ryan Blaney matched his career-best XFINITY Series finish at Texas Motor Speedway with a runner-up effort in the My Bariatric Solutions 300. He has finished among the top 10 in all four career starts, including three among the top five. … Kevin Harvick’s third-place finish in the My Bariatric Solutions 300 was his 17th top-10 XFINITY Series finish at Texas Motor Speedway, tying Matt Kenseth for the track record in that category. … Austin Dillon, who finished fourth in the My Bariatric Solutions 300, has finished among the top 10 in all 10 career XFINITY Series starts at Texas Motor Speedway. … Cole Custer registered a top-five finish (5th) in the My Bariatric Solutions 300 in his first career XFINITY Series start at Texas.