The 2010 playoff race at Texas Motor Speedway had a little bit of everything. Two of the more mild-mannered drivers in the garage getting physical in a mid-race confrontation? Check. An unheard of mid-race pit crew change? Check. Oh and how about title implications in the third-to-last race of the season? Check.
Entering the 2010 AAA Texas 500, four-time defending NASCAR Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson held 14-point lead on Denny Hamlin with three races left in the season. But when the title picture is the third biggest story line from this race, you know that there was plenty of other drama that unfolded.
Let’s start with how things got physical between Jeff Burton and Jeff Gordon. No, that is not a typo — “The Mayor” and the four-time champion came to blows under caution on Lap 191. The two playoff drivers had been racing each other hard, with Gordon taking exception to Burton crowding him in Turn 4 before the caution. He pulled his No. 24 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet alongside Burton’s No. 31 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet to express his displeasure, but Burton — inadvertently, he would later say — turned Gordon into the wall under caution.
Gordon made his way to Burton’s car, where some shoves and pushes were exchanged — but no punches — before NASCAR officials broke the two up.
With Gordon out of the race, Johnson’s crew chief Chad Knaus cooked up a plan to try and boost his driver’s hopes of winning a fifth straight championship. He decided to swap pit crews with Gordon’s team in the middle of the race. That swap would stay permanent coming out of Texas for the final two races of the season. And while Johnson finished ninth in the race, the move paid dividends in the season’s final weeks.
As for the rest of the race, much of it was dominated by Greg Biffle, who led 224 of the 334 laps but ultimately finished in fifth. Hamlin had won in the spring event at the 1.5-mile track and took the point position from Mark Martin shortly with 29 laps to go for his eighth and final win of the season. The victory put Hamlin in position for his first championship with a 33-point lead with two races to go.
Hamlin, however, would ultimately not be able to hold off Johnson from clinching his fifth straight title in the NASCAR Cup Series.
Check out Denny Hamlin’s sweep of Texas Motor Speedway and all the dram that led up to it in this Classic Race Replay of the 2010 AAA Texas 500 at Texas Motor Speedway.