Sunday, November 11
Phoenix Int'l Raceway
Jimmie Johnson celebrates after winning his fourth consecutive NEXTEL Cup race; a feat that affords him an 86-point lead over second-place Jeff Gordon
heading for the season finale at Homestead this coming weekend.
Johnson Wins Fourth Consecutive Race
By Reid Spencer, Sporting News NASCAR Wire
PHOENIX, AZ (November 12, 2007) - Jimmie Johnson won his fourth straight race, the Checker Auto Parts 500 at Phoenix International Raceway, to expand his lead over Jeff Gordon in the Chase for the NASCAR Nextel Cup, putting the driver of the No. 48 Lowe's Chevrolet in position to win his second straight championship next Sunday at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
Fifth on a restart on Lap 275, after the 10th caution of the race, Johnson moved quickly to the front, passing Matt Kenseth for second position on Lap 283 and powering past Martin Truex Jr. for the lead on Lap 288 of the 312-lap race.
From that point on, Johnson pulled away to record his series- and career-best 10th victory of season. It is the 33rd of his career, tying him for 18th all time with Fireball Roberts.
In a scramble for position behind him, Greg Biffle finished second .870 seconds behind Johnson. Kenseth ran third, followed by Tony Stewart and Ryan Newman. Gordon was 10th and dropped 86 points behind his Hendrick Motorsports teammate heading to the finale in Florida.
Johnson and Gordon are the only drivers with a chance to win to the title. Johnson is the first driver to win four straight races since Gordon accomplished the feat in 1998.
Regardless of the outcome at Homestead, team owner Rick Hendrick will claim his seventh Cup title. Johnson can clinch the championship with a finish of 18th or better in the final race.
“I just go out and do my job and give it everything I have,” Johnson said. “I’m dumbfounded. I’m just as shocked as everybody watching the race.”
Gordon struggled with the handling of his No. 24 Chevrolet throughout the race, though he ran as high as second after the leaders got off-sequence on pit stops. Gordon restarted fourth and Johnson 10th after a caution for Kasey Kahne’s wreck on Lap 148, but Johnson ran down Gordon for the second position 25 laps later, as the No. 48 began to assert its dominance.
The eighth caution of the race, for Dave Blaney’s spin in Turn 2 on Lap 233, put all the front-runners back on the same pit sequence. With a two-tire call, Newman won the race off pit road and led the field to a restart on Lap 240, with Kenseth second, Stewart third, Clint Bowyer fourth, Truex fifth and Johnson sixth.
Complete Race Results and Point Standings in the Event Stats section below...
Checkered Flag Fast Facts
Qualifying: Friday, November 9 (ESPN2 & TSN-alt at 5:30 p.m./AT)
Final Practice: Saturday, November 10 (ESPN2 at 4 p.m./AT)
RaceDay: Sunday, November 11 (SPEED at 2:30 p.m./AT)
Countdown to Green: Sunday, November 11 (ABC & TSN-HD at 4 p.m./AT)
Race: Sunday, November 11 (ABC & TSN-HD at 4:35 p.m./AT)
- Jimmie Johnson won the Checker Auto Parts 500 presented by Pennzoil, his 33rd victory in 218 NASCAR
NEXTEL Cup Series races.
- This is his 10th victory and 23rd top-10 finish in 2007. The last driver to win 10 races in a season was Jeff
Gordon – who won 13 in 1998.
- Johnson has won four consecutive races, beginning at Martinsville. The most recent driver to win four in a
row was Jeff Gordon from Pocono through Michigan in 1998. The last driver to win five in a row was
Richard Petty in 1971.
- This is his first victory and seventh top-10 finish in nine races at Phoenix International Raceway.
- Greg Biffle (second) posted his second top-10 finish in eight races at Phoenix.
- Matt Kenseth (third) posted his sixth top-10 finish in 11 races at Phoenix.
- Juan Pablo Montoya (17th) was the highest finishing rookie.
- Johnson now leads the Chase for the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup by a margin of 86 points over Jeff Gordon.
Johnson can clinch the championship with a 18th-place finish at Homestead – regardless of the
performance of any other driver or laps led. If he leads that drops to 19th or better; if he leads the most
laps his clinch will be 21st or better.
*AT is one hour ahead of ET, i.e. if it's 2 p.m./AT - it's 1 p.m./ET...
Event Stats PDF files unless otherwise noted
Carl Edwards won the Bud Pole for the Checker Auto Parts 500 presented by Pennzoil with a lap of
27.114 seconds, 132.773 mph.
- This is his third Bud Pole in 120 career NASCAR NEXTEL Cup races.
- This is his first Bud Pole and 10th top-10 start in 2007.
- This is Edwards’s first Bud Pole at Phoenix International Raceway.
- Martin Truex Jr. posted the second-fastest qualifying time, his third front-row start in the past four races.
- Jeff Gordon (third) posted his 22nd top-10 start of 2007 and his 11th top-10 start in 18 races at Phoenix.
- Sam Hornish Jr. (26th) qualified for his career-first NASCAR NEXTEL Cup race in his seventh attempt to
make a NASCAR NEXTEL Cup race.
- Patrick Carpentier (24th) and Jacques Villeneuve (27th) both qualified for their second NASCAR NEXTEL
- Brian Vickers (22nd) was the fastest of the drivers required to make the field on time.
- Juan Pablo Montoya (14th) was the fastest qualifying rookie.
- Drivers that failed to qualify include Michael Waltrip, AJ Allmendinger, Ward Burton, John Andretti, Dale Jarrett and David Reutimann.
- Starting Lineup in the Event Stats section below...
Canadian stock car racing legend Jean Paul Cabana (center) in Phoenix Friday with fellow Canadian racers Jacques Villeneuve (left) and
Patrick Carpentier (right) - both of whom will be in the Phoenix NEXTEL Cup race.
Green Flag Fast Facts
The Race: Checker Auto Parts 500 Presented by Pennzoil
The Place: Phoenix International Raceway
The Track: 1-mile oval
The Distance: 500 kilometers/ 312 miles/ 312 laps
The Purse: $4,998,497
2006 Polesitter: Jeff Gordon
2006 Winner: Kevin Harvick
Pre-Race On-Track Schedule (ET): Friday—Practice, 11:30-1 p.m. Qualifying, 3:40 p.m.; Saturday—Practice, 9-9:50 a.m. and 12:50-1:50 p.m.
Season To-Date Results & Point Standings: click here
Keys to Winning...
Green Flag Notes...
- Kevin Harvick: “Phoenix is another place where you need to get through the center of the corner, but you also have to have forward bite. As the run goes on, the car tends to get tighter in the center of the corner, so you need to keep your car turning well there and be able to stay in the throttle up off.”
- Harvick's crew chief Todd Berrier: “Phoenix is very similar to a (New Hampshire) or Richmond, the races are short, and you really have to have your act together when the thing starts; it’s really hard on brakes. It’s really similar to (New Hampshire); you have to turn well, but you have to do it all really early because it’s a 300-lap race. If you’re off a little bit, you’re 30th, it takes a long time to get back to the front.”
Catch standings leader Jimmie Johnson. That’s second-place Jeff Gordon’s charge with two races remaining in the Chase for the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup – not as monumental a task as it appears.
Johnson’s win at Texas last Sunday erased his then-nine-point, second-place deficit to Gordon, boosting him into a 30-point lead.
So it’s Gordon in second as NASCAR NEXTEL Cup teams prepare for Sunday’s Checker Auto Parts 500 at Phoenix.
The one-mile track nestled at the foot of the Estrella Mountains isn’t quite his playground, but it’s been kind enough that
Johnson may find himself on the defensive this weekend.
Gordon won his first race at Phoenix in April, and now goes for the season sweep there. Johnson kept pace in the spring with a fourth-place finish.
- Sunday’s Checker Auto Parts 500 is the 16th and final time that series teams will compete with the Car of Tomorrow – NASCAR’s next-generation race car – in ’07.
The new car will be used fulltime in ’08. Teams were schedule to run it in 16 of 36 events this year to prepare for next season.
Phoenix’s April event marked just the third new-car event. It has competed at nine other tracks this season – Bristol Motor Speedway, Martinsville Speedway, Richmond International Raceway, Darlington Raceway, Dover International Speedway, Infineon Raceway, New Hampshire Motor Speedway, Talladega Superspeedway and Watkins Glen International.
Hendrick Motorsports has won eight of the 15 previous new-car events, including the April race at Phoenix, where Jeff Gordon triumphed.
Teammate Jimmie Johnson won the most recent new-car event, the fall race at Martinsville three weeks.
Series teams also tested at Atlanta Motor Speedway two weeks ago, on the Monday and Tuesday following that track’s October event. That test – the seventh and final NASCAR-sanctioned test of ’07 – was in preparation for the new car’s ’08 debut on 1.5-mile tracks.
- Juan Pablo Montoya (No. 42 Texaco/Havoline Dodge) continues to lead the Raybestos Rookie of the Year point standings over David Ragan (No. 6 AAA Insurance Ford).
Montoya finished 25th at Texas while Ragan was 37th, increasing his lead to 20 points (234-214).
- Chevrolet continues atop the Manufacturers’ standings, leading Ford by 84 points after another victory by Jimmie Johnson. Last Sunday’s win gave Chevrolet 25 victories this season.
- Both Kyle Busch and Kevin Harvick have the opportunity to embellish their Phoenix statistics across the board this weekend.
Both are participating in all three NASCAR events at PIR – Sunday’s Checker Auto Parts 500, the NASCAR Busch Series’ Arizona.Travel 200 on Saturday and the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series’ Casino Arizona 150 on Friday.
Busch also will commute to his hometown of Las Vegas to compete in Saturday night’s Fall Classic Super Late Model feature at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway Bullring.
IMPORTANT: All information, schedules and/or scheduled events is/are subject to change without notice. Please
check with the source to confirm.
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