Gloves come off as Chase winds down - NASCAR Notes by Lugnut - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

NASCAR NOTES: Gloves come off as Chase winds down

Photo Credit: Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images Photo Credit: Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images
Glenn Campbell - "The Lugnut Cowboy" Glenn Campbell - "The Lugnut Cowboy"

Jimmie Johnson and Brad Keselowski gave little racing room to each other in the final laps of Sunday's AAA 500 at Texas Motorspeedway and set the mood for the remaining two races in the Chase.

Johnson dominated the majority of Sunday's action; however, the final few laps became a war of wills for the two title contenders with Johnson getting the decision at the final bell.

"That's the first time that we've really engaged at that level and raced each other that hard," said the five-time Champion of his battle with Keselowski over the final laps.

As the field took the green with six laps to go, Keselowski ran Johnson up the track and then traded sheet metal down the front stretch in an effort to keep the former champion behind him.

Johnson responded with some aggressive moves of his own on the green-white-checkered to take the win and a seven-point lead into the last two races.

"To his credit," said Johnson about his competitor's aggressiveness. "He did a nice job of getting right to the edge and we brought home race cars. We weren't wadded up like a bunch of fools."

Keselowski was able to hold off his competition over a series of restarts in the later stages of the event, but eventually ran out of luck.

"I knew I wasn't going to be able to execute every restart," said Keselowski afterwards. "I had to choose between wrecking him and winning the race, and it didn't seem right to wreck him."

Keselowski might have given Johnson a little room this time, but with time running out on his title hopes, I wouldn't look for that "Mr. Nice Guy" attitude to continue.

"I ran him hard and we're going to keep him honest," continued Keselowski on how he races for a championship. "I know if we keep running like this that we won't be beat."

Third place finisher Kyle Busch had a front row seat to the action and seemed to appreciate the effort put forth by the two title contenders.

"It was exciting," said Busch on the battle in front of him. "Those guys up there were battling. They battled hard, giving it everything they've got. That's what they've got to do if you're going to win a championship in the Sprint Cup Series."

The message was sent from both corners that the final two races will be a war between the two men sitting atop the standings. Can the seasoned veteran out-fox his young challenger or can the exuberance of youth prevail. No one knows the answer to that right now, but the next two weeks will surely be exciting.

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