Jimmie Johnson's slump to begin the 2017 season is over.
The reigning NASCAR Cup Series champion took the lead from Joey Logano with 16 laps remaining at Texas Motor Speedway on Sunday and held on for his first win of the season and his seventh at the Lone Star State track.
A caution flag for debris with 33 laps to go brought the leaders to pit road for two tyres while Logano stayed on the track to inherit the lead. Johnson rolled off third for the restart but was able to get by Kevin Harvick before Turn 3.
Johnson entered Sunday's O'Reilly Auto Parts 500 with just one top-10 finish (ninth at Phoenix). He jumped to 11th with the win but still trails Larson by 125 points.
Drivers and experts alike expected wrecks and mayhem to play out during the first Cup race at the speedway's re-profiled track, but despite gusty winds and a bevy of contenders starting from the rear, major wrecks were avoided.
Time to celebrate, Seven-Time! pic.twitter.com/xBvL75Y0Wr-- NASCAR (@NASCAR) April 9, 2017
Kyle Busch, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Chase Elliott, Kasey Kahne and Kyle Larson were among the nine drivers to start from the rear of the field after their cars failed to pass tech prior to the end of the first round of qualifying on Friday at the 1.5-mile track.
Larson was able to work his way up from 32nd to finish second, his fourth runner-up finish of the season.
Logano finished third followed by Kevin Harvick and Dale Earnhardt Jr., who scored his first top five of the season.
Ryan Blaney swept the first two stages and led 148 laps on the day but drifted back in the final stage in part to missing his pit stall with 33 laps remaining en route to a 12th-place finish.