Jimmie Johnson led 128 laps to get his fifth career NASCAR Sprint Cup victory at Texas Motor Speedway on Saturday night.
Johnson also won in November at Texas, where all four of his previous wins had been in fall races. He went back in front to stay with 14 laps left, holding off Kevin Harvick and Hendrick Motorsports teammate Dale Earnhardt Jr. to get his 72nd career victory.
Harvick, the series points leader who has already won twice this season, finished second.
The runner-up finish for Harvick comes after he was eighth in Martinsville in the last Cup race two weeks ago. That ended his run of eight consecutive races finishing first or second, the longest such stretch since Richard Petty did it 11 times in a row in 1975.
“I’m not disappointed at all, racing for wins is what we’re here to do,” said Harvick, who led 96 of the 334 laps but is without a win in 25 Texas starts. “Nothing at all to hang your head about.”
This was the fifth time in Johnson’s last seven starts at the 1 1/2-mile, high-banked track that he led at least 100 laps. This is fourth win in the span that also includes a runner-up finish in the spring race three years ago.
Earnhardt, with his third third-place finish this season, gave Chevrolet a sweep of the top three spots in the first Sprint Cup night race this season.
Team Penske rounded out the top five in a pair of Fords, with defending race winner Joey Logano finishing fourth and Brad Keselowski fifth.
Harvick, Logano and Martin Truex Jr., who finished ninth, are the only drivers to finish in the top 10 in all seven races this season. Keselowski got his sixth top 10.
Jeff Gordon, who in his last full season, is the only driver who has started all 29 Sprint Cup races at Texas since the track opened in 1997. He finished seventh after starting 12th.
Gordon won the 2009 spring race at Texas, where he has 12 top-10 finishes. It is also the only track in his 768 career races where he has finished 43rd — last in the field — and it did that twice, in 1999 and again in 2008.
Unlike after Johnson’s win in November, the only postrace fireworks this time were in the sky.
There was late contact between Keselowski and Gordon in the race five months ago. That led to a post-race melee on pit road involving both of their teams, a fracas that broke out after Harvick pushed Keselowski into the fray.
Harvick had led only eight total laps at Texas before starting on the front row Saturday night and leading the first 33 laps.
Harvick and his Stewart-Haas Racing teammate Kurt Busch, the polesitter, combined to lead the first 79 laps before Gordon passed Busch for a brief time up front. Busch finished 14th
The only other driver with more than two Cup wins at Texas is Carl Edwards, a three-time winner. He finished 10th, ending his career-long streak of eight consecutive finishes outside the top 10. It was his first top 10 for Joe Gibbs Racing.