Race Weekend Central

Thinkin’ Out Loud: 2015 AAA Texas 500

Who’s in the headline?Jimmie Johnson saved his best for last Sunday and spoiled Brad Keselowski‘s party as the laps wound down. Johnson led six laps during the event, including the final four to steal the win from Keselowski, who led 312 of the posted 334 laps of the event. Johnson proved, once again, that the fall race at Texas is his race, everyone else is just a squirrel trying to get a nut. Johnson has won four straight fall races in Ft. Worth and has done it five of the last nine times the event has been held. Johnson has twice as many wins as Carl Edwards, second among all drivers ever at Texas Motor Speedway.

What happened – The race began with a very green race track and Joey Logano blew a tire 10 laps into the event. The tire severely damaged Logano’s ride and put him in the garage for an extensive amount of time. Logano’s teammate Keselowski started on the pole and absolutely dominated the event, only relinquishing the lead during a couple of early race restarts and some green flag pit stop sequences. Johnson spent the vast majority of the race running in the back end of the top five, but found the cornering ability after the final pit stop to drive past Keselowski with four to go and lead to the finish. Kevin Harvick overcame two flat tires and a gear shift that was popping out of fourth gear to finish in the top three and set himself up for what could be an exciting race in Phoenix next weekend.

Why you should care – Johnson’s win put Keselowski in the situation to have to most likely win at Phoenix to advance to Homestead along with his teammate Logano who absolutely has to win to advance. The end result is at least one strong contender to prevent Johnson’s teammate Jeff Gordon from winning a title will not make it to Miami with a shot at the title. Not mentioned is the fact that Kyle Busch methodically ran the race and has himself positioned 11 points ahead of Edwards in the fifth points position. When it was all said and done, the only change in the championship standings between last week and this week is Harvick is in third in points and Martin Truex Jr. is in fourth.

What your friends are talking about – The aftermath of Martinsville unfolded quickly and decisively over the days following the race. Matt Kenseth was suspended for two races after wrecking  Logano from the lead while running multiple laps down. Kenseth was in the position after being wrecked by  Keselowski on a restart while running for the lead. NASCAR stated that Kenseth’s position outside of the Chase affecting a car in the Chase was a significant factor in the suspension. Apparently the fact that the car he took out had severely impacted Kenseth’s chance to continue in the Chase two weeks earlier was not a factor at all. This was just another example of how everything is about the Chase in NASCAR and no drivers outside of the Chase matter.

The beginning of the race was marred by several tire issues. Fans were very worried that there was going to be another tire disaster like the series saw at Indianapolis in 2008. Fortunately, after three distinctly different issues hit Logano, Harvick and Dale Earnhardt Jr., the race settled down a bit and unfolded more like a typical 1.5-mile Cup race. Goodyear takes a lot of flack, and rightfully so, for making tire production for the Cup series into something far more complex than it needs to be. This time around it does not appear as though it was an issue for them. A handful of drivers had issues but more than 30 drivers ran the whole race without a tire problem. That said, it will not be surprising if the multi-zone tire compound is officially put to bed after Homestead in two weeks.

Listening to all of the talking heads after Texas, you’d think Harvick is all but assured of winning Phoenix barring a catastrophic disaster. Have they all forgotten that Harvick ended the title hopes of at least three drivers, and destroyed the cars of another 10 at Talladega by intentionally wrecking Trevor Bayne? It is a very real possibility that multiple people (Denny Hamlin, Austin Dillon, Ryan Newman and Sam Hornish Jr. to name a few) will be looking to drop a Gordon/Bowyer moment on the No. 4 in the desert Southwest.

Kenseth wasn’t involved in the race but he certainly didn’t slip out of the limelight. After the race ended, with Johnson in victory lane after working his way around Keselowski who blocked as best he could, the driver of the No. 20 sent out a tweet heard ’round the world.

It was announced this week that Bass Pro Shops and the NRA will be the title sponsors for the night race at Bristol. As if rednecks didn’t already wear enough camouflage to the racetrack, now it will be all but expected.

Who is mad – Logano came into the race knowing that he most likely had to win one of the last two races to advance to the final four. 10 laps into the race the left-rear tire on Logano’s car exploded and caused significant damage to the left rear of the car. Logano’s team affected repairs in the garage, but it cost them 66 laps and put the final nail in the coffin of any hope of advancing to the final round on points.

Keselowski has put his name in the NASCAR books with another new record. It is one that he would rather not have but it is now his. Keselowski led 312 laps and did not win the race. That is the most laps led by a driver who did not win the race in the history of the sport. Not only did that ignominious statistic mar Keselowski’s day, but it also means that he now has to either win at Phoenix or have significant misfortune befall at least three of the other seven drivers in contention to make it to Homestead. Keselowski is 19 points behind the fourth-place cut-off for Homestead.

Kyle Larson started the race on Sunday in the fifth position. During the race he had a left rear quarter panel issue that resulted in a couple of flat tires for his ride during the event. Sadly, the official race report lists a DNF for Larson with the reason of accident. Frustratingly the box score for the race never lists the No. 42 in an accident. So not only did Larson’s race not go according to plan, but his accident that knocked him from the event was not even recognized by NASCAR as having taken place.

Who is happy – Harvick had more than enough opportunity to have his day ruined on Sunday with not one but two flat tires. He also had the gear shift popping out of fourth gear which resulted in him having to race with one hand on the wheel and one on the gear shift. In the end he managed to finish the race in third place and was closing on Keselowski for second as the checkered flag flew. That is the kind of mettle that it takes for a team to win a championship. Harvick proved that a Cup car isn’t that hard to drive by wheeling it for 100 laps with one hand.

Truex Jr. started on the outside of the front row on the final restart of the race but quickly developed a vibration in the right front which prevented him from competing for the win over the final 16 laps. Truex did manage to hold onto a top-10 run, coming home in eighth position. As a result, Truex is seven points ahead of Edwards for the final transfer spot for Homestead and a shot at the 2015 Cup series title.

Earnhardt Jr. had the fastest car on the racetrack multiple times during Sunday’s race at Texas. Unfortunately he pushed it too hard on a mid-race restart and bounced his car off of the wall, suffering significant damage to the right rear of the car. Not only did his team get his car repaired but they patched it up enough to have him moving forward at the end of the race, culminating in a sixth-place finish. Earnhardt received two lucky dogs during the event which aided in his strong run to the checkered flag.

When the checkered flag flew

Johnson went to victory lane for the 75th time in his career on Sunday. It was Johnson’s 505th career start.

Johnson is still eighth on the all-time win list, one behind Dale Earnhardt for seventh. He is second among active drivers, 18 behind Gordon, who is third on the list.

This was Johnson’s fifth triumph of 2015.

Johnson has six career wins at Texas Motor Speedway, most all-time. He is the first driver to win three consecutive races at Texas.

This is the third time that a driver has swept both races at Texas in a season. Edwards (2008) and Hamlin (2010) were the previous two drivers to accomplish the feat.

Keselowski came home second for the second time in his career at Texas.

This is Keselowski’s sixth top-two run of 2015.

Keselowski is tied with Speedy Thompson on the all-time second-place finish list for 52nd with 15 runner-up runs.

Harvick’s podium run was his 18th of 2015.

Harvick has come home in the top three four times in 26 starts in Ft. Worth.

On the all-time podium list Harvick is 22nd with 97 in his career. He is one behind Hall of Famer Dale Jarrett for 21st.

Brett Moffitt finished 30th to take home Rookie of the Race honors.

With all of the racing at the 1.5-mile in Texas, it ended up that no one locked in a spot in Homestead to join Gordon for the run for the title. Gordon will be joined by at least two drivers advancing on points to the final race and at least one strong contender on the outside looking in thanks to his teammate Johnson’s victory. The remainder of the eight Chase contenders and their points position after Texas:

  1. Kyle Busch
  2. Kevin Harvick
  3. Martin Truex Jr.
  4. Carl Edwards
  5. Brad Keselowski
  6. Kurt Busch
  7. Joey Logano

Takin’ it to the Bank

Cup winners this year have pocketed $11,339,149 in 34 races while the last-place finisher (43rd) has taken home $2,633,486.

In the Xfinity series it has been $2,142,274 for the winners and $391,155 for 40th place in 31 races.

After 21 Truck races, the winner has $1,037,750 in his coffers and the 36th-place finisher has banked $195,045.

What is in the cooler – In a race where one driver led 312 of 334 laps there was a bit of excitement late that saved it from being a complete snoozer. Johnson’s late-race run for the victory became one of two legitimate on-track passes for the lead, stunning considering the multiple grooves Texas offered throughout the weekend. At least the heart-pounding ending combined with tire problems early to leave a shred of unpredictability in an otherwise awful event. We’ll give it three cold Buffalo Butt Amber Lagers from Rahr and Sons Brewing down in Fort Worth, Texas.

Where do you point your DVR for next week – The penultimate race of Sprint Cup’s 2015 season unfolds at Phoenix on Sunday, November 15th at 2:30 p.m. ET on NBC. When the checkered flag flies on this 1-mile oval, the Final Four will be set to compete for the championship at Homestead-Miami.

Phoenix’s 500-kilometer event, while live on television can also be heard on your local MRN affiliate or SiriusXM NASCAR Channel 90. The race is also streamed on NBC Sports Live Extra.

About the author

What is it that Mike Neff doesn’t do? The writer, radio contributor and racetrack announcer coordinates the site’s local short track coverage, hitting up Saturday Night Specials across the country while tracking the sport’s future racing stars. The writer for our signature Cup post-race column, Thinkin’ Out Loud (Mondays) also sits down with Cup crew chiefs to talk shop every Friday with Tech Talk. Mike announces several shows each year for the Good Guys Rod and Custom Association. He also pops up everywhere from PRN Pit Reporters and the Press Box with Alan Smothers to SIRIUS XM Radio. He has announced at tracks all over the Southeast, starting at Millbridge Speedway. He's also announced at East Lincoln Speedway, Concord Speedway, Tri-County Speedway, Caraway Speedway, and Charlotte Motor Speedway.

Sign up for the Frontstretch Newsletter

A daily email update (Monday through Friday) providing racing news, commentary, features, and information from Frontstretch.com
We hate spam. Your email address will not be sold or shared with anyone else.

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
J. Smith

In manufacturing news last week, Ohio productivity and quality took a nose dive during the contentious vote to legalize marijuana. Allegedly, management at Ohio based Goodyear claims that in spite of Union officials encouraging their members to take frequent “Toke Breaks” all last week in support of the new law, the quality of products was not compromised.


Who would have thought? I would bet that those tires were manufactured before last week.

J. Smith

Did that 20 car-ma just cost Keselowski a punched ticket by purposely bringing out the late race caution? More importantly, just how many laps down was 20 when he did it? Who knows with all the NASCAR smoke and mirror crap. They never did say exactly why that caution flag flew. They’ll give 20 minutes to how hard it is for Harvick (best driver in the world) to drive with one hand but won’t give 5 minutes to why Penske (best team in the world) is all but eliminated from the playoffs. Brad’s not so bad anymore, after the race he just took the BS caution issue on the chin. I just love the drummer.


Matt is so full of sheetz…grown up. God, goes to Gibbs and he must have had a class in whining 101. But he always gave the pity me story and the geezz what did I do, when he did things intentionally for years that media and fan scruntiy were overwhelming absent..and no I don’t mean “racing deaL’. Fans have short memories. This soap opera stuff with Hamlin selling t-shrits with #FreeMatt, and Kurt Busch telling Friday media day he was sure Kez knocked Matt out on purpose…I dunno, this is all kinda stupid, lies and too much lying drama. They are pandering to the lowest common denominator as far as common sense and lack of brains go. Not looking good. sad. :(


Lady karma is such a bitch, huh?


Karma? Not what I was thinking..but hey…whatev’s.


See Spot Run, stayed up late to jump on my comment. Sorry I replied…forgot all about you my troll…… :( There is a few keystrokes I will never get back.


Nailed it!


kb, seriously, your son is old enough to fight his own battles. your immaturity that drives sticking up for your married son in his late twenties is quite sickening.
If you’re not his mom, which i seriously doubt, then it is a bit sad that you hold him in such high regard he can do no wrong in your eyes. Go back to your Logano Shrine if you don’t want to live in reality.


Kb, i believe you are the lowest common denominator as far as common sense and lack of brains go. you’re either joey’s mom or the great brian france himself.


One might argue that this is what Nascar wants for fans as it seems to be attracting more and more of the lowest common denominator. If that’s the case, mission accomplished.


I just think Steve it is the same tards posting their hate…ignore the losers with zero brain cells..Ooooh, ooooooh..of we post multiple times it will make the other person look like a real loser….Oh good grief..these are the “fans” BZF wanted. So sad and pathetic.


just wondering how this could possibly get any more ludicrous.
nascar.. they’ve gone plaid…..
smoke ’em if you’ve got ’em.


JJ gave a great clinic on how to pass a blocking driver without using the bumper. Hope Joey was paying attention. Last week playback was hell and now looks like this week’s karma is hell too. Too bad Joey that NASCAR couldn’t protect you from karma too. And what’s that word “quintessential”, yeah that’s it.


There is is. Was just waiting for someone to bring up the whole karma thing. Too bad Joey didn’t do anything wrong to deserve any karma. Kansas was a racing incident regardless of what Kenseth lovers or anyone else thinks.


Of course it was a racing issue, however, it was a dumb one that could have been avoided if Joey just drove around Matt, there was more than enough room.


Well Gary, it would be better to swallow (pun intended) if the jackoff’s keep making like it was a move that was never made before. He held his line as many, many did before, and now he is some sort of moron that got sick of trying to get around the nervous school girl who had erratic driving for many laps before Logano said, I ain’t moving. Most other drivers would not have been so generous and patient. Ie check out Martin Truex comment regarding the very thing. And the 43 year old diaper wearing Stewie ‘s wife and Truex’s “long time girlfriend” are best buds.


kb, joey’s calling you, it’s time to change his diaper

Bill B

It was nice just being able to watch the race and not worry about points or the chase for a change.

This 3 race elimination deal just doesn’t work if your goal is to crown the most deserving driver with the championship. There are just too many parts that can fail on a car and with only 3 races, skill and performance just don’t have a chance against bad luck. So wins mean more than anything according to the emporer but it looks like all the drivers with the most wins will be out of the running by Homestead; Johnson, Kenseth and Logano. Looks like Kyle Busch is the next on the list with 4 wins, so I guess next week something happens to him ensuring that those who won the most races won’t win the championship. Brilliant system there dumbass France, makes a lot of sense and it’s working brilliantly.

J. Smith

I heard the term NASCAR Nation a lot of late. They should be added to the Axis Of Evil list for all the atrocities.

Bill B

LOL… agreed. And by the looks of the crowds and the ratings numbers this year, the “nation” is bleeding it’s citizens. I hate when they put “nation” after something… it’s total BS hype and nothing more.


That “Nation” thing is just another example of the NA$CAR inferiority complex. The term comes from the Boston Red Sox’s diaspora of fans (known as Red Sox Nation) transplanted to other states from the failed “people’s republic of MA”. As seen by the large group of fans at away games in FLA, CA, etc.

NA$CAR just can not come up with any original ideas.

The large empty spaces at every track can not be blamed on the economy nor covered over by advertisement banners. The reason is obvious to all but them. I dumped my 4 season passes last year after finally coming to the realization that this “ain’t what it used to be”.

I have not watched a race green to checker all year either.


Well count me in as disliking the whole “nation” thing that NASCAR tries to push on the fans.

I didn’t watch much of the race yesterday, the weather was good and I had some outside chores that needed to be done before the weather turns. I did enjoy the fact that I could relax and not worry about how this race turned out. It was a nice change.

Dennis, I agree, the large empty spaces are not due as much to any economic issues but far more related to the decisions that NASCAR made over the past 10 years and how the fans feel about them. NASCAR & the media prefer to blame it on other things but let’s face it, NASCAR was still rising when BZF took over and it has been in a fall off ever since. But NASCAR refuses to acknowledge that people aren’t that interested in watching high speed parades with no passing – not even in the comfort of their homes via TV.

Carl D.

There’s that word again… diaspora. Time to chug another beer.


The only thing economical about Nascar at the moment is the amount of money fans are not wishing to spend on this garbage any longer. Can’t wait to see the stands next year when Gordon is done. And then the following year when Stewart leaves. That will probably be a whole swath of fans leaving the sport. The big question is can Nascar survivor 2 large packs of fans leaving the sport? Will be fun to watch while not having any vested interest in it whatsoever.


Curious as to why NASCAT threw a caution for the first Harvick flat. He didn’t hit anything-was it to keep him from losing laps?

Bill B

Yep. That was pretty obvious wasn’t it.


According to the unofficial results the last caution was for debris and the 20 got the free pass. Makes sense to me. Why don’t they just call the last yellow flag everyone is waiting for a “competition caution to help a Mr. H. car get another chance at the leader.” This has never happened before. Johnson is a good teammate for Hendrick-Stewart. Johnson let the 48 loose. He wins a lot when he does that.

Tim S.

Over-hyped event at the most over-hyped track in the sport. A one-car rout “rescued” by the king of the clone track aero snoozers. I chose to clean out my closet. It was a far more exciting and rewarding endeavor.


How would NASCAR have reacted if Jimmie had done to Brad what Joey did to Matt at Kansas? Would Brian France come out and say “That’s quintessential NASCAR.” But wait, that’s a non chaser taking out a chaser, but wait, that’s one of Mr. Hendrick’s cars. On my, what would Brian and NASCAR have done??

BTW Joey, did you take notes on how you pass someone cleanly when you have the faster car even though they are in the lane that you want??

Bill B

I’ve noticed that NASCAR’s website has turned off comments on their articles. I guess they don’t like the tune the fans are singing and, unlike drivers and others that suck on NASCAR’s teet for a living, they can’t control the fans any other way than not allowing them to speak. The dicktator has spoken.

Tim S.

I’m surprised you can even stand to go to that site, Bill B. I don’t, except for timing & scoring.

Bill B

I like to check out the comments to see if all the negativity people here vent is universal. I’ll check out ESPN and USA Today too. While the comments here have more substance, Frontstretch doesn’t have a monopoly on fans that are sick of what NASCAR has become. The negativity is somewhat universal.


no surprise there, NASCAR has selective hearing on all things so if it doesn’t agree with their point of view, they don’t want to hear it.

I seldom go to nascar.com though because it is a terrible mess of a site IMO but it is good to know that the commentary about NASCAR in general is universal. Of course NASCAR will tell us all how much it respects the fans. Yeah, right.


How’s this scenario.

A top quarterback gets injured during pre-game warm-up for the first game of the season. He comes back halfway through the season. The team wins the rest of its games to get to the Super Bowl and loses to a team with fewer overall wins. Would the NFL give the trophy to the losing team because they had more wins?

Bill B

Who cares? It’s football not racing. If you can work the other 30 teams into that scenario then I’ll try to answer. :)

J. Smith

Right Bill, this has never been validation for the chase. On any given Sunday in auto racing we know exactly who was the best, 2nd best, 25th best and so on because everyone competes together. On any given Sunday in football one can only speculate who was best and so on. Playoffs are stick and ball’s best attempt to determine who is probably the best. NASCAR sold out integrity and redefined “Champion” for profit.
I do, however, think some comparisons to stick and ball are interesting and relevant. Suppose in the last minute of a championship game that a flag is thrown that turns the game on it’s head and changes the outcome of the championship. Now suppose that the TV coverage doesn’t in any way explain why the flag was thrown. No replays, no explanation at all. That simply would not be acceptable. Now to Texas, the flag was thrown with 20 laps to go and turned the race on it’s head and we got no explanation. They implied the 20 car on the apron with no flat tires was the reason but who the hell knows. I read here just now that it was a debris caution. I continually try to beat off the urge to apply logic to NASCAR and to be the master of my universe, but it’s hard.


I thought of that but didn’t put it in.

All the other teams are also playing based on their points total. Just in case some fans won’t watch because their team isn’t in the big game.

Would somebody please have the courage to tell Brian that it’s football, not racing.


How many races will Johnson be suspended for? It is pretty obvious that the late pass of a chase driver by a non-chase driver had a huge effect on the chase itself. I demand action against the 48 be taken immediately!


Mike Neff — aha, so that’s where the nation junk came from, should have known. NASCAR never has an original idea, they just glom onto whatever passing fad there is.

I agree, too, the only fanbase I’ve ever heard referred to as a “nation” was Junior’s base. The rest of us were just normal (well sort of) fans.


Who are we to call NASCAR management a bunch of clowns when in fact we are the real clowns. The only way to get NASCAR ‘s attention is to take away the $$$$ in other words “starve it to death”.  Unfortunately, the collateral damage would be great. Never go to another race, never watch another broadcast and never click on another internet site such as  Frontstretch.com or Jayski. Simply put NASCAR ran a race and nobody came, nobody looked  and nobody cared. We must take our money, time, and effort, and go elsewhere. And soon NASCAR and it’s wonderful chase would be referred  to only in the past tense.

Share via