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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.”




Related Pictures

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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)
Paul Menard, driver of the #27 Serta/Menards Chevrolet SS, finished ninth and Austin Dillon, driver of the #3 Dow Great Stuff Chevrolet SS, finished 28th Saturday, August 23, 2014 in the Nascar Sprint Cup race at Bristol Motor Speedway in Bristol, Tennessee. (Photo by Alan Marler/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Jamie McMurray, driver of the #1 McDonald’s Chevrolet SS, finished eighth and Kasey Kahne, driver of the #5 Great Clips Chevrolet SS, finished 35th Saturday, August 23, 2014 in the Nascar Sprint Cup race at Bristol Motor Speedway in Bristol, Tennessee. (Photo by Rusty Jarrett/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Kurt Busch, driver of the #41 Haas Automation Chevrolet SS, finished fifth Saturday, August 23, 2014 in the Nascar Sprint Cup race at Bristol Motor Speedway in Bristol, Tennessee. (Photo by Harold Hinson/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe`s Chevrolet SS, finished fourth and Kyle Larson, driver of the #42 Target Chevrolet SS, finished twelfth Saturday, August 23, 2014 in the Nascar Sprint Cup race at Bristol Motor Speedway in Bristol, Tennessee. (Photo by Rusty Jarrett/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Joey Logano, driver of the #22 Shell Pennzoil Ford, leads a pack of cars during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Irwin Tools Night Race at Bristol Motor Speedway on August 23, 2014 in Bristol, Tennessee. (Photo Credit: Tom Pennington/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Joey Logano, driver of the #22 Shell Pennzoil Ford, and his team celebrate in Victory Lane after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Irwin Tools Night Race at Bristol Motor Speedway on August 23, 2014 in Bristol, Tennessee. (Photo Credit: Matt Sullivan/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Joey Logano, driver of the #22 Shell Pennzoil Ford, celebrates in Victory Lane after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Irwin Tools Night Race at Bristol Motor Speedway on August 23, 2014 in Bristol, Tennessee.  (Photo Credit: Sean Gardner/Getty Images)
Joey Logano, driver of the #22 Shell Pennzoil Ford, celebrates in Victory Lane after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Irwin Tools Night Race at Bristol Motor Speedway on August 23, 2014 in Bristol, Tennessee.  (Photo Credit: Sean Gardner/Getty Images)
Joey Logano, driver of the #22 Shell Pennzoil Ford, takes the chequered flag to win the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Irwin Tools Night Race at Bristol Motor Speedway on August 23, 2014 in Bristol, Tennessee. (Photo Credit: Brian Lawdermilk/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Joey Logano, driver of the #22 Shell Pennzoil Ford, celebrates with a burnout after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Irwin Tools Night Race at Bristol Motor Speedway on August 23, 2014 in Bristol, Tennessee. (Photo Credit: Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
Matt Kenseth, driver of the #20 Dollar General Toyota, leads a pack of cars during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Irwin Tools Night Race at Bristol Motor Speedway on August 23, 2014 in Bristol, Tennessee. (Photo Credit: Brian Lawdermilk/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Danica Patrick, driver of the #10 GoDaddy Chevrolet, is involved in an incident during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Irwin Tools Night Race at Bristol Motor Speedway on August 23, 2014 in Bristol, Tennessee. (Photo Credit: Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 Doublemint Toyota, Aric Almirola, driver of the #43 STP Ford, and Clint Bowyer, driver of the #15 5-hour Energy Toyota, are involved in an on-track incident during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Irwin Tools Night Race at Bristol Motor Speedway on August 23, 2014 in Bristol, Tennessee. (Photo Credit: Sean Gardner/Getty Images)
Kyle Larson, driver of the #42 ENEOS Chevrolet, is involved in an incident during the NASCAR Nationwide Series Food City 300 at Bristol Motor Speedway on August 22, 2014 in Bristol, Tennessee. (Photo Credit: Rainier Ehrhardt/Getty Images)
Ryan Blaney, driver of the #22 Discount Tire Ford, celebrates in Victory Lane after winning the NASCAR Nationwide Series Food City 300 at Bristol Motor Speedway on August 22, 2014 in Bristol, Tennessee. (Photo Credit: Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
Ryan Blaney, driver of the #22 Discount Tire Ford, celebrates with a burnout after winning the NASCAR Nationwide Series Food City 300 at Bristol Motor Speedway on August 22, 2014 in Bristol, Tennessee. (Photo Credit: Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
Ryan Blaney, driver of the #22 Discount Tire Ford, takes the chequered flag to win the NASCAR Nationwide Series Food City 300 at Bristol Motor Speedway on August 22, 2014 in Bristol, Tennessee. (Photo Credit: Brian Lawdermilk/NASCAR via 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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