Thursday, February 22, 2018
Sports

Again at Texas, field pursuing Johnson

FORT WORTH, Texas — Jimmie Johnson finished his qualifying run with the fastest lap on the day, then stayed in his car while waiting to see if anybody would knock him off the pole for Sunday's AAA Texas 500.

It turned out the same way it did a week earlier in Martinsville.

When the Sprint Cup leader finally climbed out of his No. 48 Chevrolet more than 30 minutes later Friday, after Brad Keselowski and the rest of the field failed to top his lap of 191.076 mph, he was the pole-sitter for the second week in a row.

"I was ready to get out, and my engine tuner stuck his head in and said, 'Hey, man, you're going to be sitting here a long time this week,' " Johnson said, adding that he thought, " 'Oh yeah, that's right. I'm not superstitious, but I'll sit here.' It doesn't mean anything, but at this point in the season, you have to pull out all of the stops."

Johnson's 29th pole is his first at Texas Motor Speedway, where he was second in April.

With his win from the pole at Martinsville, Johnson regained the series points lead, by two over Keselowski.

Johnson was the 20th car on the track for Texas qualifying.

"It was a while-knuckle lap. I can say I didn't leave anything on the table with that one," Johnson said.

Keselowski, 44th of 46 drivers to make a run, ran 189.534 mph, good for eighth spot. He also qualified eighth his past two races at the 1½-mile, high-banked track, where he has never had a top-10 finish.

"We're in strong position to control our own destiny as far as the Chase is concerned and having a shot at winning it," he said. "That's really about all you can ask. Certainly you'd like to have a big lead, but that's not very realistic when you're racing the best and competing against the best."

2013 SWITCH: Earnhardt Ganassi Racing is switching engine suppliers, and going away from its namesake company. The struggling two-car team, with drivers Jamie McMurray and Juan Montoya, will move from Earnhardt Childress Racing engines next season to engines from powerhouse Hendrick Motorsports.

Sauter wins in trucks

FORT WORTH, Texas — Johnny Sauter regained the lead with 11 laps to go and went on to his second NASCAR truck series victory this season, both coming at Texas Motor Speedway.

Sauter made the winning pass in his Toyota around Parker Kligerman, who took only two tires his last stop and couldn't hold on to the lead in the WinStar World Casino 350.

Points leader James Buescher, who started second in a Chevrolet, finished 11th, the last truck on the lead lap. With two races left, his points lead over Ty Dillon was cut from 21 to 15. Dillon was fifth in a Chevy. He led one lap, late in the race when he stayed out during the last cycle of green-flag stops to pick up a bonus point. Sauter became the third driver to sweep both races at the Texas track in a season.

Sauter, who finished 2.2 seconds ahead of Kligerman, led twice for 28 laps and won the fastest race in series history with an average speed of 154.734 mph. There were only two cautions, slowing the race down for eight laps.

Nelson Piquet Jr., the pole-sitter who led twice for a race-high 65 laps, finished third and Kyle Busch was fourth.

FORMULA ONE: Series chief Bernie Ecclestone said he's not worried about Bahrain once again hosting a race despite ongoing clashes between security forces and anti-government protesters. Ecclestone also seemed to put a damper on prospects of France's return to the schedule as a replacement for the canceled New Jersey race. The French GP has been off the calendar since 2008.

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