for your iPhone
for your iPad
NASCAR

NASCAR Links

Scanner Frequencies

Meet the Staff

2014 Schedule

Jimmie Johnson wins third straight race at Phoenix

Increases Sprint Cup points lead
Sunday, November 09, 2008

Advertisement

(L-R): Chad Knaus, Jimmie Johnson and Chandra Johnson celebrate their victory
Todd Warshaw/Getty Images for NASCAR

Polesitter Jimmie Johnson played his own version of “Catch Me If You Can” Sunday -- and nobody could -- in the Checker O’Reilly Auto Parts 500 and in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup.

Though it took a green-white-checkered-flag finish to decide the race, the outcome was hardly in doubt, as Johnson dominated the race, leading 217 of 313 laps. Kurt Busch finished second, .295 seconds behind the two-time defending Cup champion.

With the victory, his seventh of the season, his third straight at Phoenix and the 40th of his career, Johnson widened his lead in the Chase to 141 points over fourth-place finisher Carl Edwards. If Johnson finishes 36th or better in next Sunday’s season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway, he will join a club that currently has only Cale Yarborough as a member: drivers to win three straight Cup titles.

After a lackluster final practice session Saturday, Johnson and his crew chief, Chad Knaus, traded phones calls and messages on their laptop computers, trying to improve the No. 48 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet.

“Those guys (the crew) were working for every little thing they could find to make this car better, and they made it the dominant car,” said Johnson, whose win also clinched Chevrolet’s 32nd manufacturers’ championship.

Of the 12 drivers who started the Chase, only Edwards has an outside chance to catch Johnson.

Johnson's Lowe's crew gives him quick pit service
Todd Warshaw/Getty Images for NASCAR
“I’m excited,” Johnson said. “I wish we could have left here and all we have to do is start (at Homestead), but Carl put up a great fight. They’ve been a strong, championship-caliber team all year. But as long as something doesn’t go crazy for us down in Homestead, we’re going to tie Cale -- and I can’t wait to start celebrating.”

Edwards knows his title hopes depend on major disaster for Johnson’s team.

“He (Johnson) did a great job,” said Edwards, who finished one position behind Roush Fenway Racing teammate Jamie McMurray. “It’s still possible, just not probable. We’ll just have to go there and hope that something happens. You saw it with the 24 today.” (Johnson’s teammate Jeff Gordon blew his engine Sunday and finished 41st.)

Denny Hamlin finished fifth, followed by Dale Earnhardt Jr., Kevin Harvick, Kyle Busch, Jeff Burton and David Ragan.

For the first 273 laps, the race looked more like a coronation than a competition. Johnson easily put distance between his No. 48 Chevrolet and whatever car happened to be running second. After a restart on Lap 267, following a caution for debris in Turn 3, Johnson pulled away steadily from Kurt Busch until a massive crash in Turn 3 stopped the action on Lap 273.

The wreck left the No. 38 Ford of David Gilliland on top of the roof and hood of Scott Speed’s No. 84 Toyota, and NASCAR red-flagged the race for more than 17 minutes while the safety crew winched the cars apart. Gilliland and Speed were examined in the infield care center and released.

By then, Johnson already had locked up a five-point bonus for most laps led, as Edwards continued his slow, methodical climb from his 15th-place starting position, a run that must have seemed like a swim through molasses for the driver of the No. 99 Ford.

A succession of excellent pit stops, coupled with positions gained on the racetrack, left Edwards in the fourth position for a restart on Lap 267, but he was unable to gain another spot. Though there were four more cautions and four more restarts in the final 40 laps, Johnson, who led the final 95 laps, finished the event without a serious challenge.

Results

FIN

ST CAR DRIVER MAKE SPONSOR PTS/BNS LAPS STATUS
1 1 48 Jimmie Johnson Chevrolet Lowe's 195/10 313 Running
2 3 2 Kurt Busch Dodge Miller Lite 175/5 313 Running
3 2 26 Jamie McMurray Ford IRWIN Industrial Tools 170/5 313 Running
4 15 99 Carl Edwards Ford Office Depot 160/0 313 Running
5 8 11 Denny Hamlin Toyota FedEx Ground 155/0 313 Running
6 5 88 Dale Earnhardt Jr. Chevrolet AMP Energy / National Guard 150/0 313 Running
7 19 29 Kevin Harvick Chevrolet Shell / Pennzoil 146/0 313 Running
8 14 18 Kyle Busch Toyota Pedigree 142/0 313 Running
9 24 31 Jeff Burton Chevrolet AT&T Mobility 138/0 313 Running
10 30 6 David Ragan Ford AAA Insurance 134/0 313 Running
11 31 16 Greg Biffle Ford 3M / Red Cross 135/5 313 Running
12 28 07 Clint Bowyer Chevrolet Jack Daniel's 127/0 313 Running
13 11 9 Kasey Kahne Dodge Budweiser 124/0 313 Running
14 10 8 Mark Martin Chevrolet U.S. Army 121/0 313 Running
15 34 17 Matt Kenseth Ford DEWALT 118/0 313 Running
16 13 10 A.J. Allmendinger Dodge McDonald's 115/0 313 Running
17 26 42 Juan Montoya Dodge Texaco / Havoline 112/0 313 Running
18 18 347 Marcos Ambrose Toyota Little Debbie 109/0 313 Running
19 41 43 Bobby Labonte Dodge Cheerios / Betty Crocker 106/0 311 Running
20 23 22 Dave Blaney Toyota Bad Boy Mowers 103/0 311 Running
21 40 28 Travis Kvapil Ford All Sport 100/0 311 Running
22 29 20 Tony Stewart Toyota The Home Depot 97/0 311 Running
23 21 01 Regan Smith * Chevrolet DEI / Principal Financial Group 94/0 311 Running
24 25 55 Michael Waltrip Toyota NAPA AUTO PARTS 91/0 310 Running
25 4 44 David Reutimann Toyota UPS 88/0 310 Running
26 9 15 Paul Menard Chevrolet PEAK / Menards 85/0 310 Running
27 32 96 Ken Schrader Toyota DLP HDTV 82/0 310 Running
28 27 7 Robby Gordon Dodge Jim Beam / Operation Homefront 79/0 310 Running
29 39 21 Bill Elliott Ford Little Debbie 76/0 310 Running
30 22 19 Elliott Sadler Dodge Siemens 73/0 309 Running
31 12 41 Reed Sorenson Dodge Target / AMP 70/0 308 Running
32 37 109 Sterling Marlin Chevrolet Miccosukee Resort & Gaming 67/0 308 Running
33 33 77 Sam Hornish Jr. * Dodge Mobil 1 64/0 307 Running
34 6 12 Ryan Newman Dodge Alltel 61/0 301 Running
35 42 38 David Gilliland Ford Digital TV Transition 58/0 297 Running
36 16 5 Casey Mears Chevrolet Cheez-It / CARQUEST 55/0 278 In Pit
37 43 70 Johnny Sauter Chevrolet Haas Automation 52/0 274 In Pit
38 17 66 Scott Riggs Chevrolet State Water Heaters 49/0 271 In Pit
39 35 45 Kyle Petty Dodge Wells Fargo 46/0 270 In Pit
40 38 84 Scott Speed Toyota Red Bull 48/5 269 In Pit
41 7 24 Jeff Gordon Chevrolet DuPont 40/0 266 Out of Race
42 36 83 Brian Vickers Toyota Red Bull 37/0 29 In Pit
43 20 1 Martin Truex Jr. Chevrolet Bass Pro Shops / Tracker 34/0 27 In Pit

Feedback can be sent to feedback@autoracing1.com

Go to our forums to discuss this article