NASCAR

Surprise, surprise: Title fight truly a two-man race after Texas

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Larry McReynolds

Larry McReynolds has more than 30 years of NASCAR experience as a mechanic, Daytona 500-winning crew chief and broadcaster. He earned 23 Sprint Cup wins as a crew chief, including two victories in the prestigious Daytona 500, as well as a pair of non-points victories in the annual all-star race. Follow him on Twitter.

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There are a couple ways you could look at Jimmie’s Johnson’s win on Sunday at Texas Motor Speedway. One way to look at it is Jimmie drove a stake through the heart of Matt Kenseth and the rest of the Chase field. The other way to look at it is Matt is only seven points back with two of his really good tracks coming up.

When you don’t factor in any bonus points, seven points means seven positions. So if Matt can beat Jimmie by four positions this weekend at Phoenix and four positions the following week at Homestead, then there you go.

Actually, if Matt would even tie Jimmie in the points, like Tony Stewart did with Carl Edwards in 2011, Matt would be declared the champion because right now he has more wins than Jimmie.

So we are down to 712 laps of racing left in the 2013 NASCAR Sprint Cup season. That breaks down to 312 this weekend and 400 next week, naturally barring any green-white-checker scenarios. That’s still a lot of racing and as well all know, anything can happen and usually does.

All that said, I definitely see Sunday’s win at Texas as a statement race by Jimmie Johnson and his bunch. Ironically, it is Jimmie’s first win on a mile-and-a-half track since his win one year ago at Texas.

Two weeks ago when we were leaving Talladega, we were giving the nod to Jimmie going into Martinsville and the nod to Matt going into Texas, but the results were the opposite of what we expected at both tracks.

One year ago, Jimmie Johnson beat Brad Keslowski at Texas and left that track going into Phoenix with a seven-point lead. We all know what happened. Jimmie didn’t even finish second in the season-ending points. Jimmie ended up fading to third in those last two races with Clint Bowyer coming in second behind champion Keselowski.

My point is that a seven-point lead right now with two races to go doesn’t guarantee you a single thing. All it means is you are the points leader going into Phoenix this weekend. As it always seems to be at this time in the season, this truly is down to a two-man race. There is only one driver left of the remaining 11 that isn’t a race behind and that’s Kevin Harvick.

The reality is Kevin is just barely in the picture some 40 points behind. So you really can finally bang the gavel that the 2013 NASCAR Sprint Cup championship will come down to Jimmie or Matt.

Tagged: Matt Kenseth, Jimmie Johnson

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