For the second week in a row, the driver who led the most laps failed to win a Sprint Cup race.
Sunday at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, Johnson had his Chevrolet out front for 76 laps, but instead of celebrating his fifth win at the 1.5-mile track, it was Brad Keselowski earning the victory, his first in 33 races.
Johnson lost the lead when Keselowski, Joey Logano and Austin Dillon stayed out while the rest of the lead pack pitted on Lap 218. The No. 48 wouldn’t get back to the top three until right before taking the checkered flag.
“It was just real hard to get there and get inside of somebody,” Johnson said. “I was impressed (Keselowski) was able to sit behind (Logano) that long and finally get by and not wear his stuff out in the process.”
While Keselowski caught up to Kyle Busch and grabbed the lead, Johnson didn’t reach Busch until he had fallen back to third, a position Johnson claimed just before the start-finish line. It gave Johnson his sixth top-three finish at LVMS in 15 starts.
It was his first top five at the track since 2012.
“The series of events leading up to that last restart (on Lap 233) kind of had us deeper in track position than we needed to be for the win,” Johnson said. “We still got a third, which is good, but those top three or four cars were pretty equal.”
If they weren’t equal in performance, they were on a level playing field when it came to racing against the elements. The day was plagued by strong winds, which sent trash flying across the track at times and late in the race caused a dust storm.
“It was gusty and problematic, but I expected it to be a lot worse,” Johnson said. “I guess when you are going 200 mph a 30 or 40 mph wind doesn’t bother it too much.”