Take a look back at the AAA Texas 500 from Texas Motor Speedway as tire trouble plagued some Chasers, and Jimmie Johnson chased down Brad Keselowski for his third consecutive win at the Texas track.
Track president presented two ponies for Jeff Gordon's kids FORT WORTH, Texas -- Teams search for horsepower all season. Jeff Gordon added a bit more on Friday -- two, to be exact -- with the latest gift on his retirement tour, courtesy of Texas Motor Speedway and track president Eddie Gossage. Gossage presented the four-time Sprint Cup Series champion with two Shetland ponies, named "Scout" and "Smokey", at a press conference. "I think about you, and you have everything," Gossage said to Gordon. "But Ella and Leo (Gordon's kids), I thought about them." Gordon could hardly muster the words to express his gratitude and/or displeasure with the realization that he now has a pair of ponies to take care of. "Eddie, you are unbelievable … you are unbelievable. Oh my God," said Gordon, who locked in his Championship 4 appearance with a win at Martinsville last week. "Do you have a ranch I could keep this at? These are going to look good in my backyard in Charlotte. I'm going to see if I can park them over at Bruton (Smith)'s." Once the ponies were given, there was no turning back -- Gossage had informed Ella and Leo of the gift ahead of the press conference. Smart move. "I am mad at you, but at the same time, I'm overwhelmed," Gordon said. "My kids are going to flip out. Yes, I'm going to have to find a place for them, because there's no way they're going to leave. "That's the coolest thing ever, honestly."
FORT WORTH, Texas -- Brad Keselowski maintained all weekend that in order to win his second Sprint Cup Series championship, he was going to need to win two of the next three races. The 2012 champion got his one loss out of the way early. Keselowski's No. 2 Ford Fusion was the beginning, middle and end of the story of Sunday's AAA Texas 500 at Texas Motor Speedway , dominating the field from the pole to a tune of 312 of 334 laps led -- but a second-place finish resulted after being passed by race-winner Jimmie Johnson on the final run of the afternoon. "We need to win the next two. I understand that. But I think we have a great opportunity to do it, as well," said Keselowski. " … We know if we keep running like we have the last two weeks, you know, we'll win races." Throughout the race, it appeared the only thing capable of stopping the No. 2 was a looming potential tire issue -- something many heavy hitters, including his teammate, Joey Logano , experienced -- but the changes his and Johnson's teams made during the last round of pit stops shifted the performance tide greatly. RELATED: Tire issues crop up early at Texas Keselowski did all he could to hold off Johnson, but the speed of the No. 48 and a potential alignment shift after contact with Martin Truex Jr .'s No. 78 -- which the Team Penske driver admitted, "probably didn't help either of us," -- allowed the six-time champion to take the lead with four laps to go and maintain the position. Despite the contact, Keselowski had nothing but kind words, post-race, concerning the wheelman of the No. 78. Heck of a job. Pleasure racing hard with you as well. If @Team_Penske can't win the championship, I hope you do. https://t.co/tnZHAifcDs — Brad Keselowski (@keselowski) November 9, 2015 "The 48 car had mega turn that last run and I couldn't keep the turn and it kept pushing real bad. I did everything I could to hold him off but he was way faster that last run," Keselowski said. "Their team did a hell of a job and found speed and my team did a hell of a job, too. We led 300-some laps and these debris yellows always favor someone and it wasn't our day for them to favor us. "… We had damn near a flawless day … I'm sure we could have done something different. I don't know if I could have, but we could have. We'll have to go to work and try to figure it out." Johnson, whose victory gives him a certifiable monopoly on the Texas fall race with four trips to Victory Lane in a row, mentioned that he "just kept trying to put pressure on (Keselowski) hoping for a mistake," but it was evident that a mistake wasn't even needed. Keselowski did not err, he just didn't possess the car necessary on the final run to land in the winner's circle and lock himself into the Championship Round at Homestead-Miami Speedway in two weeks. As it stands, Keselowski is sixth in points and 19 behind fourth-place Truex. As he noted, a win will likely be needed to advance. If he does, the No. 2 car could be the odds-on favorite. Homestead and Texas share many similarities and teams will be using the same Goodyear tire run Sunday at the Fort Worth track. "As strong as we ran today, if we carry that over to Homestead, good Lord, watch out," he said. "We know we need to win the next two to win the championship. The good news is we have that opportunity. That's the way I look at it."
Inspection issues at Texas Motor Speedway will cost the Go Green Racing team with driver Joey Gase and the Premium Motorsports entry with Ryan Preece 15 minutes of practice time this weekend at Phoenix International Raceway . The two teams were among seven teams receiving warnings and/or time penalties prior to last week’s NASCAR events at Texas Motor Speedway . Gase, who did not qualify for the AAA Texas 500 , will be required to sit out the first 15 minutes of opening practice Friday at PIR after the No. 32 team failed the Laser Inspection Station (LIS) portion of pre-qualifying inspection three times. The No. 98 of Preece failed the LIS four times, also during pre-qualifying, resulting in the loss of practice time. The No. 88 of Dale Earnhardt Jr . ( Hendrick Motorsports ), the No. 95 of Michael McDowell ( Leavine Family Racing ) and the No. 23 of Jeb Burton ( BK Racing ) received written warnings for failing the LIS twice. On the XFINITY Series side, the No. 18 of Daniel Suarez ( Joe Gibbs Racing ) also failed on its first two attempts. The laser inspection platform, in use since the start of the 2013 season, measures specific points underneath each car, such as camber, wheelbase and rear axle positioning. Measurements are within 1/1,000th of an inch in most cases. The No. 20 XFINITY Series entry with driver Erik Jones ( Joe Gibbs Racing ) also received a written warning. The first practice for Sprint Cup Series teams this weekend at Phoenix is scheduled to get underway on Friday at 2 p.m. ET.
RELATED: Full race results " Series standings " Chase Grid Below is a breakdown of how the full 43-car field fared at Texas Motor Speedway : 1. Jimmie Johnson , No. 48 Chevrolet, Hendrick Motorsports . Johnson ran the bottom line to make up time and catch then-leader Brad Keselowski en route to his third straight Texas win (sixth overall). " RELATED: NASCAR.com goes 1-on-1 with Johnson in Victory Lane 2. Brad Keselowski , No. 2 Ford, Team Penske . The pole sitter led 312 laps and was just four circuits shy of punching his ticket to the Championship 4. " RELATED: Keselowski dominates but can't seal the deal 3. Kevin Harvick , No. 4 Chevrolet, Stewart-Haas Racing . Desperate to defend his 2014 championship title, Harvick rebounded from a couple cut tires and even spent some of Sunday's race driving with one hand on the wheel and one hand on the shifter because his car kept popping out of gear. " RELATED: Harvick overcomes adversity for top-three finish 4. Kyle Busch , No. 18 Toyota, Joe Gibbs Racing . NASCAR took the splitters from Kyle Busch and two of his Joe Gibbs teammates, but that didn't seem to deter Busch, who led a lap and kept his name in the hat for the Championship 4. " RELATED: NASCAR confiscates splitters for three JGR teams 5. Carl Edwards , No. 19 Toyota, Joe Gibbs Racing . Edwards recorded his seventh top-five Texas finish after spending most of the race in the top 10. 6. Dale Earnhardt Jr ., No. 88 Chevrolet, Hendrick Motorsports . Earnhardt held onto a car that was "wrecking loose" and was the beneficiary twice en route to his 16th top-10 at Texas . 7. Kurt Busch , No. 41 Chevrolet, Stewart-Haas Racing . Kurt Busch raced his way back into the top 10 on Lap 174 after dropping back to 22nd when his pit crew missed a few lugnuts during an early stop. " RELATED: Chase bubble watch post- Texas 8. Martin Truex Jr ., No. 78 Chevrolet, Furniture Row Racing . Truex, one of the biggest movers early, had to hold on tight in the closing laps due to a lack of power steering. " RELATED: Truex keeps title hopes alive with tough Texas run 9. Jeff Gordon , No. 24 Chevrolet, Hendrick Motorsports . While most teams were sweating the lack of practice due to Saturday's rain, Gordon and the No. 24 team could breathe easy thanks to their Martinsville win last weekend. 10. Jamie McMurray , No. 1 Chevrolet, Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates. McMurray picked up his third straight Texas top-10 after stopping for two tires only during the final caution period. 11. Austin Dillon , No. 3 Chevrolet, Richard Childress Racing . After a lengthy chassis adjustment to help over the bumps, Dillon cracked the top 10 with 50 laps left in Sunday's race and went on to record his best Texas finish. 12. Erik Jones , No. 20 Toyota, Joe Gibbs Racing . Subbing in for a suspended Matt Kenseth , Jones qualified sixth -- his best Cup start -- and managed his best Cup result. 13. Paul Menard , No. 27 Chevrolet, Richard Childress Racing . Menard went from being on the splitter during the first part of Sunday's race to needing help over the bumps en route to his eighth top-15 at Texas . 14. Brian Scott , No. 33 Chevrolet, Circle Sport . Scott turned in a solid run in his first Cup appearance at Texas . 15. Clint Bowyer , No. 15, Michael Waltrip Racing . "Stay after it," spotter Brett Griffin encouraged Bowyer as he was running 15th and chasing down the competition ahead of him. " RELATED: Hear driver audio on RACEVIEW . 16. Danica Patrick , No. 10 Chevrolet, Stewart-Haas Racing . After making her best Texas start (11th ), Patrick spent the race fighting a loose-handling condition. 17. AJ Allmendinger , No. 47 Chevrolet, JTG Daugherty Racing . Allmendinger restarted 20th on the final caution and picked up a few spots running the high line. 18. Aric Almirola , No. 43 Ford, Richard Petty Motorsports . Better on long runs, Almirola climbed through the field after an early penalty on pit road. 19. Greg Biffle , No. 16 Ford, Roush Fenway Racing . A hole in the cowl cover from the flat tire under green-flag conditions impacted Biffle late in Sunday's race. 20. Kasey Kahne , No. 5 Chevrolet, Hendrick Motorsports . " I think something is broken," Kahne reported as he faded from 12th in the final 25 laps. " RELATED: Hear driver audio on RACEVIEW . 21. Ricky Stenhouse Jr ., No. 17 Ford, Roush Fenway Racing . " The front is shot," Stenhouse reported to his team as he made his green-flag stop for four tires and fuel with 81 laps left in Sunday's race. 22. Ryan Newman , No. 31 Chevrolet, Richard Childress Racing . Newman was running ninth when he had a left-rear tire go down on Lap 145, and he made an unscheduled pit stop. 23. David Ragan , No. 55 Toyota, Michael Waltrip Racing . Ragan dropped through the field after he had to make an extra stop early in Sunday's race for damage sustained when leaving pit road on Lap 26. 24. Sam Hornish Jr ., No. 9 Ford, Richard Petty Motorsports . A vibration with 100 laps to go prompted Hornish to give up the battle for the beneficiary pass and hit pit road. 25. Landon Cassill , No. 40 Chevrolet, Hillman Smith Motorsports. Looking for rear grip, Cassill was running 26th and racing for the beneficiary pass on Lap 201. 26. Casey Mears , No. 13 Chevrolet, Germain Racing . With Sunday's finish, Mears keeps his streak alive and has completed all 23 events he's attempted at Texas . 27. Cole Whitt , No. 35 Ford, Front Row Motorsports . Whitt's biggest challenge mirrored that of the competition -- endure the ever-changing handling thanks to tire wear. 28. Justin Allgaier , No. 51 Chevrolet, HScott Motorsports . Allgaier picked up six spots within the first eight laps but consistently dealt with a tight handling condition in the center of the turns. 29. David Gilliland , No. 38 Ford, Front Row Motorsports . The longer green-flag run helped the handling of Gilliland's car. 30. Brett Moffitt , No. 34 Ford, Front Row Motorsports . Handling was a persistent issue for Moffitt, who radioed his team early in the race, "The rear feels like it's on ice, especially on throttle." " RELATED: Hear driver audio on RACEVIEW . 31. Michael Annett , No. 46 Chevrolet, HScott Motorsports . Annett improved upon his April appearance at the intermediate Texas track. 32. Jeb Burton , No. 23 Toyota, BK Racing . A 2013 victor at Texas in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, Burton made his first Cup appearance at the 1.5-mile Fort Worth oval on Sunday. 33. J.J. Yeley, No. 26 Toyota, BK Racing . Yeley led Lap 55 during the fourth caution period before reporting to pit road for service. 34. Michael McDowell , No. 95 Ford, Leavine Family Racing . McDowell ran as high as 13th on Sunday, but was trapped on pit road when the eighth caution flag waved. 35. Matt DiBenedetto , No. 83 Toyota, BK Racing . DiBenedetto fared better during long green-flag runs and was in striking distance of his best Texas result. 36. Ryan Preece , No. 98 Chevrolet, Premium Motorsports. The Texas newcomer started from the rear of the field after an engine change. 37. Kyle Larson , No. 42 Chevrolet, Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates. Larson's best Texas start opened strong, but was stalled when he experienced a left-rear tire issue on Lap 101 to bring out the caution flag. 38. Denny Hamlin , No. 11 Toyota, Joe Gibbs Racing . A mechanical issue (fuel pump) sent Hamlin to the garage early in Sunday's contest. 39. Trevor Bayne , No. 6 Ford, Roush Fenway Racing . Bayne lost his right-rear tire and cut his brake line after getting into the wall on Lap 197 to bring out the eighth caution flag. 40. Joey Logano , No. 22 Ford, Team Penske . Logano, now in a must-win situation going into Phoenix, was briefly sidelined when his left-rear tire exploded on Lap 10. " RELATED: Logano goes for a spin early 41. Alex Bowman , No. 7 Chevrolet, Tommy Baldwin Racing . Bowman made his way into the top 25 before encountering a motor issue. 42. Tony Stewart , No. 14 Chevrolet, Stewart-Haas Racing . Stewart's day was done after he got loose and spun through the grass on Lap 52. 43. Ryan Blaney , No. 21 Ford, Wood Brothers Racing . Blaney dropped from the top 10 and headed for the garage after hitting the Turn 2 wall on Lap 25.
RELATED: Updated series standings " Chase Grid FORT WORTH, Texas -- Martin Truex Jr . said he wasn't sure if there was or wasn't contact, and having just climbed from his No. 78 Chevrolet on pit road, he hadn't had time to survey the side of Furniture Row Racing entry. But the distinctive donut, the result of contact with the tire of another car, was hard to miss just below the driver's-side window. "We just got together a little bit on the front straightaway," Truex said of late-race contact with Brad Keselowski as the two battled for the lead in Sunday's AAA Texas 500 at Texas Motor Speedway . "I don't know if I went down or he came up. He said he thought he came up. It's all good, it's hard racing." A loose wheel and power steering issue -- the issue was that he had none -- dropped Truex from contending for the win to hanging on for a top 10. He finished eighth, and is fourth in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup standings with only one race remaining to determine the field of four that will compete for the championship later this month at Homestead-Miami Speedway . "We had a chance at the win there, I think," said Truex. "Racing with Brad at the end and the right front started shaking and the car just got really tight. Then it was just (a matter) of trying to keep the thing on there for 15 laps and make it to the end. It's just a shame. We had a really good car today. "The 2 (of Keselowski) was stout all day long but toward the end it looked like we got a little bit closer to him. Before that last caution we were actually catching him a bit. I don't know; I wished we would have finished better but all in all I guess it was an OK day." RELATED: Keselowski discusses racing with Truex Consistency helped put the No. 78 in the Chase picture, and a win earlier this season at Pocono Raceway guaranteed his spot in the 16-team field. He had 14 top-10 finishes in his first 15 starts to open the season. And that consistency is starting to resurface with four finishes of eighth or better in his last five starts. Truex led only a single lap, but given Keselowski's dominance on the day, few others spent any time out front as well. His team managed to avoid the tire issues that plagued some teams on the 1.5-mile track, and he quickly showed that his 23rd-place qualifying effort wasn't a sign of things to come. It helped his cause, he said, that Keselowski was unable to win and thus sew up one of the remaining spots in the finale. "That certainly helped a little bit. I was cheering pretty hard for Jimmie Johnson ," Truex said of Johnson's pass for the lead in the waning laps. " … We're still in good shape. Next week would have been a lot easier had we gotten second or third and we had a chance at it. It's disappointing when those finishes slip away but … all in all we're in good shape." Keselowski, driver of the No. 2 Ford for Team Penske , was quick to confer with his rival on pit road. Though disappointed with the outcome -- Keselowski led 312 of 334 laps in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race only to lose the lead to Johnson four laps from the finish -- there appeared to be no ill feelings as a result of the contact with Truex. "It certainly is never helpful when you make contact with another car, your own car or theirs, Keselowski said. "As far as whether it hurt my car or not, I couldn't answer that."
With the way the No. 20 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota was turning laps around the 1.5-mile Texas Motor Speedway in Sunday's AAA Texas 500 , you'd think a certain former premier series champion was behind the wheel. Instead, it was 19-year-old Erik Jones . Filling in for the suspended Matt Kenseth , Jones -- in just his second career Sprint Cup Series start and third Sprint Cup appearance, all of which were in other drivers' cars -- spent much of the day in the top 10 in what proved to be a challenging race for some of the sport's most seasoned vets. Jones wasn't invincible to the rampant tire issues that plagued many, having a right-front go down and tearing up the nose of his Toyota Camry, but he battled back to finish 12th, a more-than-acceptable result for a driver still earning his stripes. "I wish we could have been a little stronger there at the end," Jones said on pit road after the race. "We had that right-front go down and it tore the nose up pretty good so kind of took us out of a shot at a top-10. To still come home 12th is a good day for us." Jones -- originally scheduled to run both the Camping World Truck Series and XFINITY Series races -- had to change his Sunday plans when he learned on Thursday that Matt Kenseth had lost both appeals to get his suspension dropped and that a replacement was needed. His doubleheader quickly turned into a tripleheader, and a successful one at that. The Kyle Busch Motorsports/ Joe Gibbs Racing driver built on his points lead with a win in Friday's Truck Series race and followed it up with a fourth-place showing in Saturday's XFINITY event. Perhaps the biggest things he'll take away from the weekend, however, are the lessons learned on Sunday. "You really have to be on top of your game and if you have any mistake like we did with the right-front, it really takes you out of any shot you have to run well," said Jones. "Just staying in it and staying out front, that's the biggest thing you need to do. I thought we did a decent job of staying in the top 10 all day up to that point. Other than that, it was a good day for us." Jones, who also mentioned he's "ready to take a day off" after the busy weekend, gets to do it all again (the tripleheade that is) next weekend. Kenseth's suspension will keep him out until Homestead, thus "The Kid" will suit up once more for the Eliminator Round finale at Phoenix. Jones picked up his first career NASCAR national series victory there in 2013 at the age of 17 in the November Truck Series race, then backed it up the following year with another. With an added week of preparation with No. 20 crew chief Jason Ratcliff, the combination sets himself up for even higher expectations in his third career start. So does he feel he could win? "I'd like to think so," Jones said. "My fortune has been very good at Phoenix, it's a track I really like and actually JGR was there testing a month or two ago. I feel pretty good about it and feel going there we have a good package. "I feel confident in my ability and think that's definitely a place where we can go up and run top-10. You never know, if the weekend is going well we could probably be up front and challenge for it."
RELATED: Full race results " Updated series standings FORT WORTH, Texas -- Two tire punctures and a balky transmission should have spelled the end of Kevin Harvick 's bid for a second consecutive NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship. But in spite of the avalanche of setbacks, the Stewart-Haas Racing driver still managed to pull off a stunning third-place finish in Sunday's AAA Texas 500 at Texas Motor Speedway to keep his title hopes alive. Third in points, Harvick is one of seven drivers still scrambling to secure a spot in the four-car championship round scheduled for later this month at Homestead-Miami Speedway . "As you look at the things we've had, we've had really good race cars and that allows us to overcome things like today with two flat tires," Harvick said on pit road after the 334-lap race. "Even with the shifter problem we were able to maintain what we had. But all in all, we just kept gouging away and everything worked out in the end." Debris from an earlier accident cut a rear tire on Harvick’s No. 4 Chevrolet less than 40 laps into the race as he was running in the top five. Able to make it to pit road without damaging his car, Harvick stayed on the lead lap, but eventually restarted outside the top 25. He wasted no time in getting back inside the top 10, and eventually the top five once again. He was dogging race leader Brad Keselowski on Lap 281 when the second tire puncture sent him back to pit road under green. Because the field was preparing for a round of green-flag stops, the incident wasn't as big of a setback as it might have otherwise been for the team. "There was debris everywhere," Harvick said. "The first caution, they just blew all the debris down to the inside wall. It seemed like a lot of people were hitting the wall and there was a lot of stuff out there today. It definitely was interesting with all the tire problems. "I never felt the tire blow apart. It was a real slow deflation as I felt the first one in the middle of the corner. I felt the second one in the middle of the corner, too, and we were able to get the car down. The only part I was disappointed in is I misplaced which tire it was both times. While several teams were battling tire issues brought on by air pressure adjustments and a lack of on-track time (both of Saturday's practice sessions were canceled due to wet track conditions), crew chief Rodney Childers said other than the punctured tires, actual tire wear wasn't an issue for the No. 4 team. RELATED: Tire issues forces Harvick to pit "At first I was blaming it on myself," Childers said of the first flat. "I thought maybe I didn't have enough air in it. But it was definitely a puncture. I've got the piece in my bag. It looked like a window shim, probably out of the 22 car (of Joey Logano ). And then the right rear that we had a problem with later, there was a big puncture in it also." Childers didn't blame NASCAR for the debris, noting, "when those things come apart, it just tears the car to pieces. "It's really hard for NASCAR to clean all that stuff up," he said. "The one that got our left rear, it was anodized black. You would have never seen it on a black race track. I know they are doing the best job they can. As a competitor you want he race track to be clean but on the other hand I know they're trying their best also." As if the tire problems weren’t enough, a problem with the transmission left Harvick driving nearly the final 100 laps while holding the gear shifter in place. "It hadn't missed a gear or jammed a gear or anything like that," he said. "It shifted smooth all weekend. I was just going along like normal. One lap, all of a sudden it just pops out of gear in the middle of the straightaway. So I don't really know. That's happened to us several times, so we definitely need to figure that out." Childers said it could have been a "freak thing" that "may never happen again." But it's clearly been an issue for the team. "We don't build our transmissions," Childers said. "… We're going to have to do something a little different there. We're the only people that run these transmissions." Hendrick Motorsports driver Jeff Gordon clinched one of the four Chase spots with his victory at Martinsville Speedway a week ago. Teammate Jimmie Johnson 's win Sunday at Texas kept any other Chase driver from automatically earning a berth. Leaving Harvick to head to Phoenix International Raceway next weekend where he's has won seven times, including the last four races. Kyle Busch (4,080), Harvick (4,079) and Martin Truex Jr . (4,076) are currently second through fourth, respectively, in the points standings. Carl Edwards , Brad Keselowski , Kurt Busch and Joey Logano round out the eight Chase drivers.
NASCAR Executive Vice President Steve O'Donnell talks about what went in to the decision to not hold practice for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series on Saturday at Texas Motor Speedway .
From Joey Logano's early issues to Brad Keselowski getting passed late by Jimmie Johnson, take an inside look at the team communication from Team Penske at Texas Motor Speedway .