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We have a race for the title - maybe

Has an accident early on in Texas breathed new life into the race for the NASCAR Sprint Cup title?
Jimmie Johnson's fiasco in Fort Worth — a wreck on lap three of Sunday's Dickies 500 — all but ensured that NASCAR will have its Championship Weekend at Homestead-Miami Speedway after all, at least in one of the top three series.

Before the crash in which Sam Hornish Jr.'s Dodge knocked Johnson's Chevy out of control and into the wall as the cars sped through turn two, the Nov. 22 season finale at Homestead was looking more like the culmination of Coronation Weekend, with all three championships likely to be decided a week earlier at Phoenix.

Johnson entered Sunday's race with a 184-point lead over team-mate Mark Martin, needing an average finish of tenth in the final three races to lock up his record fourth straight title. Those numbers changed dramatically when Johnson nursed his crippled car to a 38th-place result at Texas Motor Speedway.

To lock up the title at Phoenix, Johnson must gain 123 points on Martin and 83 on third-place Jeff Gordon, an unlikely circumstance. Though the Camping World Truck Series and Nationwide Series championships likely will be clinched before NASCAR racing returns to Florida, what happens at Phoenix this weekend will determine what Johnson needs to do at Homestead to wrap up the championship.

Johnson can still shut out his closest pursuers by averaging a fourth-place finish in the final two races, even if he fails to lead a lap.

Even though Johnson lost the better part of his pre-Texas advantage, his shrunken points lead (73 over Martin and 112 over Gordon) may be more a case of postponing the inevitable than of turning the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup into a down-to-the-wire competition.

After sitting in his car for more than an hour while his team repaired it, returning to the track on Lap 115 and slogging around the 1.5-mile track a full second or so off the pace, Johnson was remarkably composed — other than taking a couple of potshots at Hornish.

“We did not want to lose points like that,” he said in what had to qualify as the understatement of the evening. “Luckily we had a big margin. We're going to two great tracks for us here, and we'll just keep racing. We've been saying all along that anything can happen. I just wish Sam could have waited a little while longer before he hit something. Instead, he lost it and hit me and off we went.

“I'm definitely disappointed. I felt like we had a chance to win the race. I felt like at least we could stretch the margin or keep it like it was. But it wasn't meant to be. We still have a nice lead, and we'll take it from here.”




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Jimmie Johnson, driver of the No. 48 Lowe’s Chevrolet, drives down pit road to rejoin Sunday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Dickies 500 at Texas Motor Speedway. After the No. 48 was damaged in a Lap 3 accident, Johnson’s crew was joined by members of Hendrick Motorsports’ Nos. 5, 24 and 88 crews to help replace the rear-end housing, hood and nose to get the car back on the track on Lap 115. Johnson lost 111 points off his lead in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup to second-place Mark Martin. (Tom Pennington/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Dale Earnhardt, Jr., driver of the #88 National Guard Chevrolet SS finished 2nd, Jeff Gordon, driver of the #24 Drive To End Hunger Chevrolet SS finished 7th Saturday, April 12, 2014 in the NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Darlington Raceway in Darlington South Carolina. Earnhardt Jr. is 4th, Gordon is 1st in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) standings. Teammate Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser Chevrolet SS won. (Photo Credit: HHP/Alan Marler for Chevrolet)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser Chevrolet SS finished 1st, Kasey Kahne, driver of the #5 Great Clips Chevrolet SS finished 37th Saturday, April 12, 2014 in the NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Darlington Raceway in Darlington South Carolina. Harvick  is 22nd, Kahne is 23rd in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) standings. Teammates Dale Earnhardt, Jr., driver of the #88 National Guard Chevrolet SS finished 2nd and Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Kobalt Tools Chevrolet SS finished 3rd.(Photo Credit: HHP/Christa L. Thomas for Chevrolet)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser Chevrolet SS celebrates his win Saturday, April 12, 2014 in the NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Darlington Raceway in Darlington South Carolina. Harvick is 22nd in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) standings. Teammates Dale Earnhardt, Jr., driver of the #88 National Guard Chevrolet SS finished 2nd and Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Kobalt Tools Chevrolet SS finished 3rd. (Photo Credit: HHP/Tami Kelly-Pope for Chevrolet)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser Chevrolet SS celebrates his win Saturday, April 12, 2014 in the NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Darlington Raceway in Darlington South Carolina. Harvick is 22nd in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) standings. Teammates Dale Earnhardt, Jr., driver of the #88 National Guard Chevrolet SS finished 2nd and Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Kobalt Tools Chevrolet SS finished 3rd. (Photo Credit: HHP/Christa L. Thomas for Chevrolet)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser Chevrolet, races during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Bojangles` Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway on April 12, 2014 in Darlington, South Carolina. (Photo Credit: NASCAR Via Getty Images)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser Chevrolet, celebrates in Victory Lane after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Bojangles` Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway on April 12, 2014 in Darlington, South Carolina. (Photo Credit: NASCAR Via Getty Images)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser Chevrolet, celebrates in Victory Lane after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Bojangles` Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway on April 12, 2014 in Darlington, South Carolina. (Photo Credit: NASCAR Via Getty Images)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser Chevrolet, celebrates with a burnout after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Bojangles` Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway on April 12, 2014 in Darlington, South Carolina. (Photo Credit: NASCAR Via Getty Images)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser Chevrolet, takes the chequered flag to win the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Bojangles` Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway on April 12, 2014 in Darlington, South Carolina. (Photo Credit: NASCAR Via Getty Images)
The front right tire of the #27 CertainTeed/Menards Chevrolet, driven by Paul Menard, catches fire during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Bojangles` Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway on April 12, 2014 in Darlington, South Carolina. (Photo Credit: NASCAR Via Getty Images)
Aric Almirola, driver of the #43 Richard Petty Motorsports Ford, and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. in the #17 Roush Fenway Racing Ford tangle during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Bojangles` Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway on April 12, 2014 in Darlington, South Carolina. (Photo Credit: NASCAR Via Getty Images)
Cars race during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Bojangles` Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway on April 12, 2014 in Darlington, South Carolina. (Photo Credit: NASCAR Via Getty Images)
Joey Logano, driver of the #22 Shell Pennzoil Ford, and Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser Chevrolet, lead the field to start the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Bojangles` Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway on April 12, 2014 in Darlington, South Carolina. (Photo Credit: NASCAR Via Getty Images)
Chase Elliott, driver of the #9 NAPA Auto Parts Chevrolet, celebrates with a burnout after winning the NASCAR Nationwide Series VFW Sport Clips Help A Hero 200 at Darlington Raceway on April 11, 2014 in Darlington, South Carolina.  (Photo Credit: NASCAR Via Getty Images)
Chase Elliott, driver of the #9 NAPA Auto Parts Chevrolet, celebrates in Victory Lane after winning the NASCAR Nationwide Series VFW Sport Clips Help A Hero 200 at Darlington Raceway on April 11, 2014 in Darlington, South Carolina. (Photo Credit: NASCAR Via Getty Images)
Chase Elliott, driver of the #9 NAPA Auto Parts Chevrolet, celebrates in Victory Lane after winning the NASCAR Nationwide Series VFW Sport Clips Help A Hero 200 at Darlington Raceway on April 11, 2014 in Darlington, South Carolina. (Photo Credit: NASCAR Via Getty Images)
Kyle Busch, driver of the #54 Monster Energy Toyota, leads the field to start the NASCAR Nationwide Series VFW Sport Clips Help A Hero 200 at Darlington Raceway on April 11, 2014 in Darlington, South Carolina. (Photo Credit: Sean Gardner/Getty Images)

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Philly - Unregistered

November 11, 2009 12:17 AM

I was so happy when Jimmie Johnson wrecked just wish they didn't fix his car that fast cause then Mark Martin would of been closer in points. I hope that Mark Martin runs perfect the next 2 races if anyone deserves the title Mark does. If Jimmie Johnson wins again then we know Nascar fixed it just so he could have that fourth title the races are not much fun to watch anymore so I put it on just to have noise in the house till the season is over. Nascar needs to just not pick a winner and let the guys decide by just clean fun racing



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