Jimmie Johnson’s win puts Team Penske championship on life support

Matt Sullivan/NASCAR via Getty Images

By Jerry Jordan — FORT WORTH, Tx – As the closing laps ticked off at Texas Motor Speedway and Jimmie Johnson edged into the lead, you could hear the cheers from fans not wanting to see Brad Keselowski move easily into the final round of #TheChase at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

It was a heartbreaker, for sure, considering Keselowski led 312 of the 334 laps in the AAA Texas 500 and looked to have victory securely in his grasp. But this is NASCAR and anything can happen, including getting run down and passed cleanly by another driver with six laps to go in the race. The other scenario would be reminiscent of Kansas Speedway but I digress.

However, it wasn’t just fans cheering when Johnson took the lead there were several teams on pit road happy to see Team Penske denied. They weren’t necessarily cheering “for” Johnson, it was more that they were cheering against Keselowski.

Had Keselowski won, it would have made things even tougher for Kyle Busch, Carl Edwards, Martin Truex Jr. and Kurt Busch, so those crews were happy to see the race play out the way it did. It also would have given Joey Logano a slim chance at redemption if he could win the race next week at Phoenix International Raceway.

Since Johnson was knocked out of #TheChase in Round 1, his win made it almost impossible for two Penske cars to fight for the championship at Homestead. Logano is in a must-win situation being 63 points down to Truex Jr. Sure, Keselowski and Logano could pair-up with a 1-2 finish but it would still take a bad run by everyone ahead of them for both drivers to advance. In fact, the myriad of mathematical equations is so complex that it would likely take a college professor to figure it out.

So, for all practical purposes, there won’t be two Fords battling for the championship during Ford Championship Weekend. That obviously makes, at least, one driver smile.

Matt Kenseth, who was serving out his two-race suspension, chimed in on Johnson’s win via Twitter saying, “Good work @JimmieJohnson! Textbook pass for the win at the end of the race when someone is trying to take your lane. #quintessential”

Whether you like #TheChase, or not, that is entertaining … and, at the very least, shows Kenseth is still unrepentant.

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