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November 5, 2012

Johnson holds off Keselowski

FORT WORTH, Texas — Jimmie Johnson regained the lead on the final restart, beating Brad Keselowski in an ending two-lap shootout to win Sunday at Texas and add to his NASCAR Sprint Cup points lead with two races left.

Johnson led 168 laps, but found himself chasing toward the end. The third restart in the late laps proved to be the charm for No. 48 Chevrolet.

During that restart on the 333rd of 334 laps, Johnson and Keselowski were side-by-side. Johnson charged hard on the outside, and cleared him on the backstretch. He held on for the final 11⁄2 laps to win from the pole for the second week in a row.

“It was an awesome race. It’s a great way to do it when the gloves are off and it’s bare-knuckle fighting,” Johnson said. “I got a great restart and got by him. I knew we had the speed if I could just get by him.”

Keselowski had taken only left-side tires — when everybody else took four tires — and went from fourth to first on another restart with 19 laps left. But there were two more restarts after that, including one when Johnson and Keselowski banged together hard after they got going, but Johnson won the one that counted most.

“Man, I thought I had it, but we kept getting all those yellows,” Keselowski said. “I knew I wasn’t going to be able to execute every restart, and Jimmie did a great job on that last one.”

Johnson increased the No. 48 Chevrolet’s lead by five points to seven over Keselowski, a runner-up in his No. 2 Dodge at Texas by leading 75 laps after never before finishing better than 14th.

They go to Phoenix next week, where Johnson was fourth and Keselowski fifth in the second race of the season eight months ago. The season finale is at Homestead.

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