Avondale, AZ- Jimmie Johnson, No. 48 Lowe's Impala SS, did exactly what he set out to do at Phoenix International Raceway (PIR) Sunday - collect the maximum amount of points possible in his quest for his third consecutive NASCAR Sprint Cup Series...
Avondale, AZ- Jimmie Johnson, No. 48 Lowe's Impala SS, did exactly what he set out to do at Phoenix International Raceway (PIR) Sunday - collect the maximum amount of points possible in his quest for his third consecutive NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Championship (NSCS).
His victory, the seventh of the season for the Hendrick Motorsports driver, clinched the 32nd Manufacturers' Cup for Chevrolet in NSCS competition.
"On behalf of the men and women at General Motors," said Terry Dolan, Manager, Chevy Racing. "It is an honor for Chevrolet to clinch our 32nd NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Manufacturers' Cup title. It is a proud achievement based on a come-back run for the title given the tough competition we face every week on and off the race track.
"This championship has been earned through the perseverance and dedication of Team Chevy's drivers, owners and crews with the collaboration of our GM Racing engineers.
"We look forward to carrying the momentum of achievement in to the 2009 NASCAR Sprint Cup season."
Starting for the pole, Johnson led three times for a total of 217 of the 313-lap race to collect his 40th NSCS career victory. In addition, the win is the third consecutive win for the defending NSCS champion at PIR.
Team Chevy four of the top-10 finishing positions in the Checker O'Reilly Auto Parts 500 Presented by Pennzoil. Dale Earnhardt, Jr., No. 88 AMP Energy/National Guard Impala SS, finished sixth (6th) and moved to 10th in the standings with one race remaining in the season.
Kevin Harvick, No. 29 Shell-Pennzoil Impala SS, finished seventh (7th) to jump to fifth in the standings heading to Homestead, Florida for the season finale.
Jeff Burton, No. 31 AT&T Impala SS, finished ninth (9th) in tonight's race and remains fourth in the points.
Clint Bowyer, No. 07 Jack Daniel's Impala SS, finished 12th in the order. He is sixth in the standings.
Jeff Gordon, No. 24 DuPont Impala SS, finished 41st after retiring from the race on lap 266 with engine failure. The four-time NSCS champion dropped to seventh in the standings.
The final race of the 2008 season is Sunday, November 16 at Homestead Miami Speedway.
JIMMIE JOHNSON, NO. 48 LOWE'S IMPALA SS -- Winner
AFTER PRACTICE YESTERDAY, ARE YOU SURPRISED THAT YOU GUYS NOT ONLY WON, BUT HAD A DOMINATING PERFORMANCE TODAY? "Yesterday we were a little confused. We had such a good car in qualifying trim and than yesterday, we were okay, but we just didn't have the car that we needed. The thing I love most about this team is it might take a while but we're going to take a deep breath, and look at things to get it dialed in and we certainly did that last night. I wore Chad (Knaus) out last night calling him up and asking him questions. His laptop was burning. I mean these guys were working for every little thing they could find to make this car drive better today. And we made it a dominant car and I'm just so proud of these guys for keeping their heads down when it counted."
WERE YOU THE LEAST BIT CONCERNED ABOUT ALL THOSE CAUTIONS AT THE END OF THE RACE? "Yeah, I had a nice lead on the No. 2 (Kurt Busch) and I just wanted it to finish out. And we kept having those re-starts there at the end. And I knew Kurt was hungry and then behind him was (Jamie) McMurray wanting a win and then the No. 99 (Carl Edwards) of course, I knew that I had to be on my toes and then get each restart right."
GOING INTO MIAMI-HOMESTEAD, READY TO TIE HISTORY WITH THREE CONSECUTIVE WINS, WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS? "I'm excited. I wish we could have left here and all we had to do was start, but the No. 99 put up a great fight today and has shown true championship character throughout the whole year. Those guys really make us work hard for it and I know as long as something doesn't go crazy for us down in Homestead, we're going to be able to join Cale (Yarborough) and I can't wait to start celebrating.
"You never know in this sport. We didn't have the best car yesterday. Chad (Knaus) worked on it last night and made some great decisions on this car. It was awesome all day. This sport always challenges you, I can't tell you how tough this week has been. It is just emotional regardless of where you are. If you have a big points lead or not. It is what I have worked for all my life for and I know everybody else in these deal has too.
"The weight that is on your shoulders it is tough. I am proud of this team to rise up each team. I look at this talent on this great race team I have and you can't thank everybody at Lowe's, Hendrick Motorsports, my crew, my guys, a lot of hard work goes in to this.
"I knew Carl was hungry and very, very good all day long. I just didn't want to do anything on that last restart to get ourselves in trouble, but I knew it was pivotal points for this victory. I was going for maximum points and we got. Carl had a great day. I know he started deep in the pack
"I just can't believe it. When I started way back when I didn't think that all of this would come together and I would have a chance to drive at Hendrick Motorsports with a sponsor like Lowe's. It is pretty cool."
CHAD KNAUS, CREW CHIEF, NO. 38 LOWE'S IMPALA SS
"Kurt Busch is a heck of a race car driver. They did a good job, they had a great race car all day long. I was nervous with those guys behind us but Jimmie stepped up just a tremendous amount. He did a really good job. We came here with something a little bit different than what we have run in the past, it worked great for qualifying obviously. We tried to adapt that in to the race but it wasn't working for us. So we went to work last night. Jimmie really brought a lot to the table and kind of pointed some things out to me. We put a different setup in the car and man it was fast all day.
"Carl (Edwards) finished fourth man. He is still right there on us. We have a mile and a half track at Homestead. Man, I just like winning. I just like winning races. That is what we do here. We do it for Rick (Hendrick) and everybody at Hendrick Motorsports."
CLINT BOWYER, NO. 07 JACK DANIEL'S IMPALA SS -- Finished 12th
"That turned out to be a decent day for the Jack Daniel's Chevrolet. We were really loose early in the race and went a lap down. We spent the rest day trying to get our lap back and finally did. Gil (crew chief Gil Martin) and all the guys did a great job staying focused and making good adjustments so we could get back on the lead lap. We were a lap down most of the day and finished 12th. That's something everyone on this team should be proud of."
DALE EARNHARDT, JR., NO. 88 AMP ENERGY/NATIONAL GUARD IMPALA SS, FINISHED 6TH:
"We worked on the car all day and made little adjustments. Real proud of my team. Real proud of Tony, Jr. (Eury). We just didn't have quite enough there at the end. Had a real good car for most of the race. Just not quite as good at the end. We tried to pump the tires up so the car could go at the end. We did that in practice, it didn't work. I wish we hadn't done that right there.
"They always have a lot of cautions here at the end of these races. Has been no different the last several times we have been. There is always a red flag at the end of the race.
"You have to give the No. 26, Jimmie (Johnson) and the NO. 2 a lot of credit. They really had good cars. I think we improved on what we ran here the last time. I was pretty happy.
"We worked real hard all day and got a solid finish. I would like to have got a top five there at the end but Denny (Hamlin) was better than I was. We got too tight near the end of the race when it got dark and cold.
"Jimmie has been awesome. He has been doing good. They are a great race team. Certainly, every sport gets dominated from time to time, this is really all I see happening here. It is a good format, a good system, a good playoff atmosphere. I don't really think you could have set the points up differently, Jimmie would have come out on top well ahead at least at this point."
KEVIN HARVICK, NO. 29 SHELL-PENNZOIL IMPALA SS, FINISHED 7TH:
"The car was really good all day. The pit crew did an awesome job and Todd (Berrier, crew chief) did great. Just on the restart, we just couldn't quite get our Shell-Pennzoil Chevy going and we lost a few spots there on that one restart and then we were able to get up to seventh. It was a good day for us, lapped cars were a little problem out there. But happy with an overall good day for us."
JEFF BURTON, NO. 31 AT&T IMPALA SS, FINISHED 9TH:
"We were really tight at the beginning of the race. Toward the end of the race we had a pretty decent car. Our pit stops were fantastic; the guys gained us spots on pit road all night long. We got hung up behind a lapped car, but Scott (Miller, crew chief) and the guys did a great job working on the car all race long and allow us to get a top-10 finish."
CASEY MEARS, NO. 5 CHEEZ-IT/CARQUEST IMPALA SS, INVOLVED IN MULTI-CAR ACCIDENT ON LAP 278 AND RETIRED FROM RACE AFTER RUNNING IN TOP-10 THROUGHOUT ENTIRE RACE, FINISHED 36TH:
"I'm so proud of all the guys on the Cheez-It/CARQUEST team today. We weren't that great in practice Friday and Alan (Gustafson) and the guys worked hard overnight and made a lot of changes this morning. Obviously they were the right ones. Our car was great all day. There at the end, things just went sour. We got back in the mess and got turned sideways, recovered, then got turned again and that ended our day. But again, I can't say how great this team was today. It was a great race for us up to that point."
MARK MARTIN, NO. 8 U.S. ARMY IMPALA SS -- Finished 14th:
"First of all I want to say just how proud I am to have worked with the guys on this U.S. Army Team," said Martin after the race. "We had a really strong car today. We might not have had the car to win it, but we had a top five car for sure. We didn't' get the finish that we wanted, but like they have all year these guys hung in there and battled back and I'm very proud to have driven their car this season. It's been a pleasure to work with (crew chief) Tony Gibson and everyone on this No. 8 team. This really has been the most fun that I've had in my career," added Martin. "To be able to run a part-time schedule with a championship caliber team has been a great privilege this season. I just have to thank everyone at Dale Earnhardt Inc. for everything. I also want to thank the U.S. Army for all the support of the past two years. It has been a real honor to represent the U.S. Army for the past two seasons. I've had a great time this season and I'm not ready to quit just yet."
JEFF GORDON, NO. 24 DUPONT IMPALA SS - RETIRED FROM RACE WITH ENGINE FAILURE:
"I am not really sure what happened to the engine. I felt it early on. I started to lose some power. I didn't pay too much attention to it because we were still getting plenty of RPM. The car was still running good, then all of a sudden it started really going down and I felt it lose a cylinder. Probably a valve or something, but I am not really sure. The kind of year we have had with this DuPont Chevrolet team. We have had a lot of stuff happen to us, but engines haven't been one of them. Now this is in the mix. Nobody is better than our engine shop so we will figure it out and make sure it doesn't happen again. It is just unfortunate; we had a good run going today. Moving up in the points and doing everything we need to do to close out this season on a positive note. Not going to be now.
"Unfortunately to day we did have a problem. We just tried to ride it out as long as we could.
"It's just pretty disappointing. One thing we haven't had happen to us all year, that we rarely have happen, is engine trouble. My hat's off to our engine guys, but unfortunately today we did have a problem. We're not exactly sure what it was. I felt it lose a cylinder and we just tried to ride it out as long as we could.
"You pretty much know it's a matter of time. I felt is lose power pretty early and I mentioned something to the team and then we lost a cylinder and then I knew that it was probably just a matter of time. I was pretty impressed with how fast it was running thought. It was running pretty good even though I only had seven cylinders. We'll figure out what it was. This is just the kind of year we've had, you know. Every time we get the car running good, something happens. It hasn't been engine trouble. That's the only engine problem we've had, I believe, all year; or two years. It's unfortunate."
UP UNTIL THAT POINT, YOU HAD A REALLY STRONG RACE CAR "Yeah, we did. We made an adjustment there that hurt us and we were just going to battle through that and probably get it back to where it was, but we definitely four or five car. Track position was so crucial. The No. 48 (Jimmie Johnson) is showing that; even the No. 2 and some of those guys when they took two tires. So we were just waiting to get to that second half of the race and get some good pit stops to get that track position and just maintain it and maybe even have a shot to win, I don't know. The No. 48 is real strong and I feel like we were as good as anybody else except for maybe the No. 26."
-credit: gm racing