FORT WORTH — Matt Kenseth started to answer a question about how he could affect Jimmie Johnson on the track when the five-time Sprint Cup champion suddenly leaned around a corner of the room.
Then after both finished their qualifying laps later at Texas, Kenseth was trackside during more interviews when Johnson playfully interrupted him and handed him a drink.
It’s appropriate that the two are so close to each other so much. Kenseth and Johnson are deadlocked for the points lead in the Chase for the Sprint Cup with three races left. The next race is Sunday’s AAA Texas 500 at the high-banked, 1½-mile Texas track where they are statistically the best two drivers.
Johnson and Kenseth have each won twice at Texas, where their 15 top-10 finishes are tied for the most and they have the best average finishes — Kenseth at 8.5 and Johnson at 9.1
‘‘It might change from his end if we’re still in it all the way to the end, but I'm just not really into all the head games,’’ Kenseth said. ‘‘My brain is over capacity already with trying to figure out how to make my race car fast enough to be the best. They always say, if you want to be the man, you have to beat the man, and he’s always definitely been the man.’’
Johnson qualified his No. 48 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet third at Texas. He will start in the row ahead of Kenseth’s No. 20 Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing, who will roll off from the sixth position.
Carl Edwards is the polesitter for the 501-mile race.
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Brad Keselowski led 105 of 200 laps at Texas to win for the sixth time in his last eight Nationwide Series starts. He finished nearly a second ahead of Denny Hamlin.