Win Gives Johnson Chase Lead

Last November Jimmie Johnson left Texas Motor Speedway with the lead in the point standings and never looked back on his way to his first career NEXTEL Cup title.

Sunday he took a step toward repeating history.

Johnson passed Matt Kenseth with only three laps to go to win Sunday's Dickies 500 at Texas and took over the top spot in the Chase for the NEXTEL Cup.

"I knew it was going to be a battle to the end," said Johnson, who won his noth race of the season. "I expected a good fight. There wasn't much time left to get it done and it was a good race there for the end.

"It's so tough from year to year to repeat, but now we have control of the championship."

With teammate Jeff Gordon, who led the standings by nine points heading into the weekend finishing seventh, Johnson took over the top spot by 30 points with two races to go.

"I just flat-out got beat today," Gordon said. "I wasn't very good from the start. At the end was the best we had been all day and night. It's a disappointing day but I'm happy for Jimmie and them. They did an awesome job.

"Hey, they are doing their job. I've never focused on anyone else, I've focused on us. Those guys are outperforming us."

Kenseth, polesitter Martin Truex, Jr., Kyle Busch and Ryan Newman rounded out the top five.

"I hate to lose it but I made it as rough on him as I could," Kenseth said. "Overall it was a great day. I hate getting beat. I had that big lead but everything seems to be going for them. I was sideways and I'm glad I didn't wreck but I'm glad I didn't wreck Jimmie.

"I knew it was a matter of time and that he was just playing with me."

Jeff Burton, Gordon, Kurt Busch, Jamie McMurray and Kevin Harvick completed the first ten finishers.

Only six drivers are still alive in the Chase as position 7 through 12 were eliminated from contention.

The NEXTEL Cup Series now heads to Phoenix International Raceway for next Sunday's Checker Auto Parts 500.

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