Kurt Busch wins at Texas

Kurt Busch claimed victory at Texas Motor Speedway, while an incident involving Jimmie Johnson in the early laps opened up the title battle once again

Kurt Busch wins at Texas

While fuel mileage turned out to be the deciding factor in the battle for victory between the two Busch brothers, the real story of the race was Johnson hitting trouble for the first time during this year's Chase, bringing the championship back to life when it looked a foregone conclusion before the weekend started.

Johnson was moving up in the order from his 12th place on the grid when he got hit by Sam Hornish Jr as the Penske driver got loose on his inside as early as lap three. Johnson's car hit Hornish's and then the barrier, suffering massive damage both at the front and rear ends.

The three-time champion drove his stricken machine into the garage, while on the track Jeff Gordon continued to lead laps after starting from pole. Suddenly the title race looked to be on, as Johnson's closest rivals raced at the front of the field.

While Johnson's crew made their best effort to get the #48 car back on the track, Gordon's speed started to vanish, first Kurt Busch taking the lead on lap 13 and then his brother Kyle emerging ahead from the first round of green-flag pitstops on lap 59.

The Joe Gibbs driver continued to lead the race while more than an hour into the race Johnson finally made it back to the track in last place. With four cars already out, Johnson hoped to get as many points as possible by just completing laps, even if more than a second off the pace.

Some of his closest rivals in the points would pass by a big opportunity of getting back in the hunt for the title when on lap 175 Juan Pablo Montoya got loose on the inside of Carl Edwards while battling in the top ten, both spinning and hitting the wall.

Edwards' race ended on the spot, while Montoya's car suffered massive damage, forcing him to go to the garage for lengthy repairs.

Gordon was also involved in the incident after spinning on his own while trying to avoid hitting another car. He managed to escape without contact and resumed the race but never had the pace after that to contend at the front.

At the sharp end of the field, the battle carried on between the Busch brothers, while David Reutimann and Marcos Ambrose looked capable of keeping up with them at times.

In the end, Busch's pitstop sequence and superior fuel mileage gave him the edge, as he completed his final stop a couple of laps later than his brother Kyle.

As the race on went without cautions, fuel calculations started coming into play in closing laps and while many avoided the risk of running out of gas, the younger Busch stayed out hoping to save enough to get to the finish line.

However the dream of a hat trick for the 24-year-old, who had won in the Trucks on Friday and in the Nationwide series on Saturday, vanished with just three laps to go when he ran out of fuel on the backstretch.

While Kurt Busch went on to claim victory, Denny Hamlin, who was among those pitting early for a splash and go in the closing laps - taking also two new tyres - made the most of his strategy to finish second, followed by Matt Kenseth and Mark Martin while Kevin Harvick was the only one able to finish without an extra stop, although he rolled to the finish line without fuel.

Marcos Ambrose was another one trying to go the distance without a splash of fuel, but he also failed in his attempt.

Johnson was credited with a 38th place finish, which has allowed Martin to close to within 73 points of the championship lead, gaining 111 points on his Hendrick team-mate with just two races remaining.

Pos Driver Make Laps 1. Kurt Busch Dodge 334 2. Denny Hamlin Toyota 334 3. Matt Kenseth Ford 334 4. Mark Martin Chevrolet 334 5. Kevin Harvick Chevrolet 334 6. Tony Stewart Chevrolet 334 7. Clint Bowyer Chevrolet 333 8. Greg Biffle Ford 333 9. Jeff Burton Chevrolet 333 10. AJ Allmendinger Ford 333 11. Kyle Busch Toyota 333 12. Ryan Newman Chevrolet 333 13. Jeff Gordon Chevrolet 333 14. Martin Truex Jr Chevrolet 333 15. Marcos Ambrose Toyota 333 16. David Reutimann Toyota 333 17. David Ragan Ford 332 18. Scott Speed Toyota 332 19. Joey Logano Toyota 332 20. Jamie McMurray Ford 332 21. Casey Mears Chevrolet 332 22. Elliott Sadler Dodge 332 23. Michael Waltrip Toyota 331 24. John Andretti Chevrolet 331 25. Dale Earnhardt Jr Chevrolet 331 26. Brian Vickers Toyota 331 27. Robby Gordon Toyota 331 28. David Gilliland Toyota 331 29. Paul Menard Ford 331 30. Erik Darnell Ford 331 31. Bobby Labonte Chevrolet 331 32. Regan Smith Chevrolet 330 33. Kasey Kahne Dodge 330 34. Bill Elliott Ford 311 35. Brad Keselowski Dodge 262 36. Reed Sorenson Dodge 248 37. Juan Montoya Chevrolet 231 38. Jimmie Johnson Chevrolet 205 39. Carl Edwards Ford 174 40. Sam Hornish Jr Dodge 88 41. Michael McDowell Toyota 20 42. Joe Nemechek Toyota 13 43. Mike Skinner Chevrolet 6 
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