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Saturday, April 12
Phoenix Int'l Raceway
Jimmie Johnson had just enough fuel left to do a celebratory burnout - and half a victory lap; a wrecker pushed the 48 car to
Victory Lane after it ran out of fuel on the backstretch...
Gas Fumes Fuel Johnson to Win
By Reid Spencer, Sporting News NASCAR Wire Service
AVONDALE, Ariz. (April 12, 2008) -- Sometimes the slowest car wins the race.
With crew chief Chad Knaus beseeching driver Jimmie Johnson to save fuel over the final seven laps of Saturday night's Subway Fresh Fit 500 at Phoenix International Raceway, the two-time defending Cup champion nursed the No. 48 Chevrolet across the finish line 7.002 seconds ahead of Clint Bowyer, who also had gambled on fuel.
Johnson completed the final lap at a relative snail's pace -- 31.19 seconds -- in full conservation mode.
The victory returned Hendrick Motorsports to victory lane after an eight-race hiatus and gave the two-time defending Cup champion the 34th win of his career -- and second straight at Phoenix. Denny Hamlin ran
third, followed by Carl Edwards, who rallied from a pit road penalty to claim the fourth spot.
|Jimmie Johnson celebrates in Victory Lane.
Mark Martin, who surrendered the lead to Johnson when he came to the pits for two tires and fuel on Lap 302, ran fifth, followed by points leader Jeff Burton, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Martin Truex Jr., Greg Biffle and Kyle Busch.
Johnson's margin of victory was the largest since Martin Truex Jr. won the Autism Speaks 400 at Dover by 7.355 seconds over Ryan Newman on June 4, 2007.
After all the other contenders save Bowyer had pitted for fuel in the closing laps, Knaus instructed Johnson on Lap 304 to "Pit this time."
After a brief discussion, they changed their strategy. "Back up your pace half a second a lap," Knaus radioed to his driver. "Screw it. We'll go for it."
Knaus spent the remainder of the race slowing Johnson down, ultimately telling him to back his pace down three seconds a lap, because none of the drivers behind had time to catch up.
"Put it in neutral!" Knaus ordered as Johnson rolled through the final two corners.
"I'm good," Johnson answered. "I've got good fuel pressure."
As he approached the finish line, Johnson screamed, "We're going to win this."
Johnson led 120 of the 312 laps. Only three other drivers -- Earnhardt (87), Martin (68) and polesitter Ryan Newman (37) -- led the race, the fewest since the Siemens 300 at New Hampshire (July 25, 2004) produced three different leaders.
Johnson conserved his fuel so effectively that he had enough left for a celebratory burnout, but he ran out of gas on the backstretch during his victory lap.
The victory moved Johnson from sixth to fourth in the championship standings, 99 points behind Burton.
Notes: The start of the race was delayed for more than 16 minutes to accommodate the rain-delayed Major League Baseball game between the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox, which FOX also televised. . . Engine failures wiped out both front row starters. Newman fell out after 134 laps, and second-place starter Elliott Sadler followed with a blown motor on Lap 161. Newman finished 43rd, Sadler 41st. . . Comment of the race from 23rd-place finisher Kurt Busch: "My car's so tight it wouldn't turn at Talladega."
Complete Race Results click here
Post-Race Driver Point Standings click here
NASCAR Newscast Phoenix Review click here to watch
Ryan Newman won the Coors Light Pole Award for the Subway Fresh Fit 500 with a lap of 26.975 seconds,
Complete Qualifying Results click here qualifying was Thursday...
Starting Lineup click here
Friday First Practice Speed Chart click here Johnson at the top, 130.293 mph
Friday Final Practice Speed Chart click here Martin at the top, 129.296 mph
- This is Newman’s 43rd pole in 232 career NASCAR Sprint Cup races. He moved into a tie with Buck Baker for
10th on the all-time pole winners list.
- This is Newman’s first pole and third top-10 start in 2008. This is his eighth straight year to win a pole. He is tied
with Junior Johnson, Terry Labonte, Lee Petty and Rusty Wallace for 10th-place on the all-time list of
consecutive seasons with at least one pole.
- This is Newman’s fourth pole at Phoenix International Raceway but his first since he won three in a row
between 2002 and 2004. Jeff Gordon (three) is the only other repeat pole winner in the 10-race period.
- Elliott Sadler posted the second-fastest qualifying time with a lap of 26.984 seconds, 133.412 mph. This is his
best start since he started second at Atlanta in March 2007.
- Carl Edwards (third) posted his fourth top-10 start in eight races at Phoenix. This is his sixth top-10 start in
- Dave Blaney (19th) was the fastest of the drivers required to make the field on time.
- Dario Franchitti (21st) was the fastest qualifying rookie.
- Drivers that failed to qualify include: Kyle Petty and John Andretti.
Broadcast Times - AT*
Qualifying: Thursday, April 10 (SPEED at 8 p.m.)
Practice: Friday, April 11 (SPEED at 7:30 p.m.)
Final Practice: Friday, April 11 (SPEED at 9 p.m.)
RaceDay: Saturday, April 12 (SPEED at 7 p.m.)
Pre-Race Show: Saturday, April 12 (FOX & TSN-alt at 9 p.m.)
Race: Saturday, April 12 (FOX & TSN-alt at 9:30 p.m.)
*AT is one hour ahead of ET, i.e. if it's 2 p.m./AT - it's 1 p.m./ET...
Green Flag Fast Facts
The Race: Subway Fresh Fit 500
The Place: Phoenix International Raceway
The Track: One-mile oval
The Distance: 312 laps/500 kilo.
TV: FOX & TSN-alt, 9 p.m./AT
Radio: MRN, SIRIUS Satellite Radio
2007 Winner: Jeff Gordon
2007 Polesitter: Jeff Gordon
Pre-Race Schedule (local track time/AT-4): Thursday—Practice, 12:15-1:45 p.m.; Qualifying, 4:10 p.m. Friday—Practice, 3:45 p.m.-4:30 p.m.; Saturday—Final Practice, 5–6 p.m.
Year-To-Date Race Results & Driver Point Standings click here
NASCAR Newscast - watch a preview for this weekends Texas event click here
Phoenix Storylines click here
Pre-Race Pit Stops
- Edwards Has Set Himself Apart...Carl Edwards (No. 99 Aflac Ford) is proving to his competitors he is the driver to beat. Edwards is back in the top 12 after winning his third race this season, overcoming a penalty that docked the No. 99 team 100 points in the driver and owner point standings, plus the 10 potential Chase for NASCAR Sprint Cup bonus points for winning at Las Vegas.
Winning is as important as ever, and Edwards has set himself apart from the rest of the top 12. Drivers who qualify for the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup will get 10 bonus points for each victory during the 26-race span leading up to the Chase. Drivers qualifying for the Chase will have their point totals “reset” to 5,000, whereupon bonus points will then be added, creating a “seeding” for the Chase.
For example: Edwards, who is ninth in the driver point standings with three wins this season, would start the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup with 5,020 points and a potential seeding position of first (he only has 20 bonus points due to the penalty). While current points leader Jeff Burton (No. 31 AT&T Mobility Chevrolet) has one victory so far this season, would start the Chase with 5,010 points - 10 points behind Edwards.
Edwards and Roush Fenway Racing show no signs of slowing down. Jack Roush has the most wins of any car owner at Phoenix International Raceway with five.
The NASCAR Season-To-Date Loop Data shows Edwards near the top of several key categories: He is ranked second in Driver Rating (111.2), ranked first in Average Running Position (8.6), and ranked first in Laps In The Top 15 (87.5%).
- Richard Childress Racing Continues To Be Early Season Powerhouse...If Carl Edwards is the driver to beat, then Richard Childress Racing has all the ingredients to be named the 2008 team to beat.
All three RCR drivers are in the top 12 in the driver standings – Jeff Burton and Kevin Harvick (No. 29 Reese’s Chevrolet) currently sit one–two respectively. But don’t forget Clint Bowyer, (No. 07 DirecTV Chevrolet) who after a wild finish at Texas managed to move up one spot from last week to 11th.
Burton leads RCR this year atop of the point standings with one victory (Bristol) three top-five and five top-10 finishes.
Burton is tied with Harvick and Dale Earnhardt Jr. (No. 88 AMP Energy/National Guard Chevrolet) for the most wins by an active driver at Phoenix with two each.
Harvick is second in the standings with two top fives and four top 10s. Harvick swept Phoenix in 2006 and posted a 10th-place finish in the spring and a sixth-place finish in the fall of last year.
Bowyer maybe the lowest driver in the point standings at RCR, but don’t let the numbers fool you – he has posted one top-five and four top-10 finishes so far this season. Bowyer has run five times at Phoenix in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series posting one top five back in the spring race of 2006.
- Chasing The Chase: Familiar Faces Just Outside The Top 12...Some of the familiar faces from last season’s Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup are sitting right outside of the top-12 driver point standings. Phoenix could be the place these four drivers turn it around.
Matt Kenseth finished last season fourth in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup, but currently is 13th – 54 points out of 12th place. He has yet to win this season, but has posted one top five and four top 10 finishes.
Kenseth heads to Phoenix looking to make up some of the ground in the point standings having won there in 2002. Out of 11 starts Kenseth has six top-10 finishes at Phoenix.
Jeff Gordon finished second last season in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup, but this season he sits outside the top 12 in 14th place 91 points behind 12th. Gordon had a brief stint in the top 12 last week but his team struggled at Texas finishing 43rd dropping him back out of the top 12.
Gordon won at Phoenix from the pole last April, tying Dale Earnhardt on the NASCAR all-time wins list with 76. But that isn’t the only success Gordon has had at Phoenix, out of 18 starts, Gordon has posted eight top-five and 15 top-10 finishes.
Kurt Busch finished last season seventh in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup, but this season he currently is 15th in the standings 111-points behind 12th place. Busch won at Phoenix in 2005 driving for Jack Roush and has posted two top fives and five top 10s in 10 starts.
The NASCAR Pre-Race Loop Data for Phoenix shows Busch ranked fourth in Driver Rating (103.7).
Martin Truex Jr. finished 11th in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup last season, but currently sits 16th in the standings 119 points behind 12th. Truex has struggled the past two weeks finishing 21st at Martinsville and 35th at Texas knocking him out of the top 12. Truex heads to Phoenix to duplicate his performance from last fall when he finished seventh.
- Locked In: Who Has To Make The Show This Week?...As the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series teams head to Phoenix, several will be vying for the eight coveted spots not guaranteed to those in the top 35 of the series owner standings.
One of those is Dario Franchitti (No. 40 Wrigley’s Juicy Fruit Dodge) and car owners Chip Ganassi and Felix Sabates. Franchitti currently is 39th in the owner standings.
It will be interesting to see if the No. 40 team can bounce back this week. Franchitti has only competed in the NASCAR Nationwide Series at Phoenix last season finishing 29th, but he did put up a good qualifying run starting eighth.
Another name to watch for is David Reutimann (No. 44 UPS Toyota) driving for Michael Waltrip. He currently is 38th in the owner point standings, but has been able to qualify his car into the events the past two weekends. Reutimann posted a starting position of 25th in 2007 at Phoenix, and a sixth at Texas last week.
Regan Smith (No. 01 DEI Chevrolet) and Teresa Earnhardt currently sit in the one spot every team outside the top 35 wants to be - the 35th position. Smith has only raced at Phoenix in the NASCAR Nationwide Series, but look for him to be in the race on Sunday on-time because in his last five attempts at Phoenix he has posted four top-five starts.
Margaret Haas’s No. 70 Haas Automation Chevrolet, driven by Johnny Sauter is 36th in the owner point standings – six points behind the No. 01 team. Sauter will make his second attempt of the season at making a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race. Sauter has competed in five NASCAR Nationwide Series races this season with a best finish of 13th at Daytona.
Mike Skinner (No. 84 Red Bull Toyota) currently is 40th in the points – 132 points behind Smith in 35th. He has participated in four events driving for Dietrich Mateschitz after the team decided to replace AJ Allmendinger. Skinner has qualified the car on-time for all four attempts he has made. The last time Skinner competed in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series at Phoenix was in 2005 – starting 27th and finishing 37th. Skinner’s best start at Phoenix in a NASCAR Sprint Cup car was second back in 1996.
- ‘08 Rookie Standings...This week the NASCAR Raybestos Rookie of the Year standings were shaken up when the previous rookie standings leader Dario Franchitti failed to qualify for the race at Texas Motor Speedway.
Regan Smith made the most ground in the rookie standings, moving up to first after finishing 35th at Texas. Smith has four starts at Phoenix in the NASCAR Nationwide Series, and he posted his best finish there last season — eighth.
Sam Hornish Jr. (No. 77 Mobil 1 Dodge) continues to sit second in the rookie standings after finishing 32nd at Texas.
Patrick Carpentier (No. 10 Evernham-Gillett Dodge) received his first Raybestos Rookie of the Race Award after placing 28th at Texas. Carpentier currently is fourth in the rookie standings with 39 points.
Michael McDowell (No. 00 Aaron’s Dream Machine Toyota) became one of the most popular rookies this past week after his qualifying attempt turned into one of the hardest crashes in recent history. McDowell did however make it through the race without any mishaps posting a 33rd-place finish at Phoenix. McDowell currently is fifth in the rookie standings, 21 points behind Carpentier after two races.
- 2008 Manufacturers’ Standings...The competitive balance in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series is at an impressive high. All four manufacturers are represented in the top 12 of the driver point standings with at least two teams each.
Carl Edwards posted Ford’s third win this season moving them into the lead in the manufacturers’ standings – one point ahead of Chevrolet. Ford leads the other manufacturers with the most wins at Phoenix with 12.
Chevrolet is second in the standings with one win and 43 points. Chevrolet teams have led the most laps this season with 977 out of a possible 2,387 laps.
Toyota sits third in the standings, with two victories this season, four points behind Chevrolet. Look for a Toyota nameplate to be up front at Phoenix as Tony Stewart (No. 20 Subway Toyota) and Kyle Busch (No. 18 Snickers Toyota) of Joe Gibbs Racing have won there.
Dodge is currently fourth in the manufacturers’ standings with 28 points and one victory. The Dodge teams this week will be looking to get the manufacturer’s first victory at Phoenix this weekend.
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