Johnson: Points lead is still healthy

Jimmie Johnson was disappointed to have lost a big portion of his healthy points lead at Texas but still considers his 73-point margin to Mark Martin to be ample heading into the final two races of the season

Johnson: Points lead is still healthy

The reigning champion was credited with a 38th place finish after crashing on the third lap of Sunday's NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Texas Motor Speedway, following contact with Sam Hornish Jr.

Johnson finished the event after lengthy repairs that kept him in his garage for more than an hour, while his Hendrick crew replaced the damaged parts on his stricken machine.

"It's still a respectable lead," said Johnson about his new gap to Martin in the championship. "73 with two to go is still a good position to be in. I hate that we gave up all these points tonight.

"Sam just lost it inside of me and I wish he would have waited a little longer to lose it. I saw he lost it later on in the race and he can do that from time to time.

"I just wish he would have waited a little while longer and didn't take me out in the process. It was just one of those things. There's not much we can do about it. We were just in the wrong place at the wrong time.

"The guys did a great job getting this car back on track to pick up a couple more spots and we'll go to Phoenix and race.

"We've got two great race tracks for us. We didn't want this by any means but we're still in a great position and we'll go to Phoenix and race."

Johnson says that heading to Texas he was still nervous about how his weekend might unfold, something he believes the media did not quite understand given his massive gap in the points before Sunday's race.

"In the back of my mind, I couldn't shut down the possibility of something going wrong," said Johnson. "This is racing. You got to drive the race. We've heard it from other sports: you have to play the game.

"I guess there is some of that in there. It's really not for me to sit here and say that. I just think it's a good lesson for everybody. We'll learn a lot as a race team from this.

"I think the media side, as well, you have a much better understanding why [crew chief] Chad [Knaus] and I have been so nervous. Even after winning races, fielding questions, the possibility was out there. It's still out there. There's no telling what's going to happen."

Even if Johnson finishes in the top five for the next two weekends, Mark Martin could still prevent him from winning his fourth consecutive title in two weeks at Homestead.

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