FORT WORTH, Texas (Oct. 17, 2012) – A pair of previous Texas Motor Speedway winners are lurking behind current NASCAR Sprint Cup Series points leader Brad Keselowski as the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup dwindles to five races remaining and with the AAA Texas 500 on the horizon, both are in prime position for a championship run.
Keselowski holds a seven-point advantage over Jimmie Johnson and a 15-point lead over Denny Hamlin heading into this weekend’s race at Kansas Speedway. The two were able to cut into Keselowski’s points lead after he ran out of fuel with 59 laps remaining during last weekend’s race at Charlotte Motor Speedway, relegating him to an 11th-place finish.
For Johnson, the final five-race stretch is setting up for a tight championship battle. He has excelled at Texas Motor Speedway, where the AAA Texas 500 is Race 8 in the 10-event Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup. Johnson owns the best finishing average among all Sprint Cup Series drivers with more than five starts at 9.27 and 13 top-10 finishes in 18 starts, including a win in this fall event in 2007.
“I feel great and I think that we see three very equal teams and cars, and teams and cars that are showing up at the race track ready to go each week,” Johnson said. “This has been a lot of fun. I think we’re probably at the halfway point now, to have us three this tight, the good, hard competitive racing, the respect for one another, I’ve had a lot of fun over these five races and I know the next five will be great, too.”
While Johnson is the only driver of the three with a championship, it’s Hamlin that can boast being the only driver to win at the five remaining tracks (Kansas, Martinsville, Texas, Phoenix and Homestead).
Hamlin’s success at Texas Motor Speedway with two victories – a sweep of both Sprint Cup races in 2008 – and eight top-10 finishes in his 14 career starts has him confident considering the success he’s had at “The Great American Speedway!” and the other four remaining race tracks.
“We made up Talladega and we made up one other race track,” Hamlin said following the race at Charlotte. “So it’s good, you want to close the gap, especially for myself, knowing that we’re hitting our best race tracks later in this Chase and not at the beginning.”
The championship picture will unfold during the AAA Texas 500 on Sunday, Nov. 4, and tickets for the eighth race in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup are still available by calling the Texas Motor Speedway ticket office at (817) 215-8500 or by visiting www.texasmotorspeedway.com