Jimmie Johnson extended his lead with one race to go to settle the 2006 NASCAR Nextel Cup title. After having narrowly missed the title the last two seasons, Johnson is the clear favorite heading into the season finale next weekend. Only the top...
Jimmie Johnson extended his lead with one race to go to settle the 2006 NASCAR Nextel Cup title. After having narrowly missed the title the last two seasons, Johnson is the clear favorite heading into the season finale next weekend.
Only the top five racers remain mathematically eligible to vie for the title. Johnson needs a 12th place finish in Miami to clinch his first title in any of NASCAR's top series.
1. Jimmie Johnson: Leader
"I was a little better than him in one and two and he was a little better than me in three and four, it would have been ten points extra and that would have been very very nice but I had such a comfortable car and a comfortable day," said Johnson. "I felt racy there at the end and I wanted to go and get those ten points but I ran out of time. I had a great run on Kevin going into the dogleg on the back straightaway but he wasn't willing to give up that piece of real estate. There was a moment there that I needed to get out of the gas and be smart and I did that and we will see if it pays off."
2. Matt Kenseth (-63)
"They did a good job on pit road, and we qualified pretty good," said Kenseth. "It's been frustrating we have just terribly, awful cars - for some reason we just can't get out of our own way - our cars are so bad we just can't race with anybody."
3. Kevin Harvick (-90)
Harvick battled battery problems and the hard charging car of Jimmie Johnson to score the win at PIR.
"This Reese's Cookie Chevrolet was just awesome," said Harvick. "Jimmie got a run on me but I wasn't going to give up the lead at that point. We led the most laps and won the race and he (Johnson) was still right there behind us, we will just keep doing what we need to do."
"It's never over until it is over, obviously we wish it was closer than that, we did everything we could do today and that's all that we can do. However it falls next week, is how it falls."
4. Denny Hamlin (-90)
"It's less than 91," said Hamlin when looking at the points. "I don't know. We did everything we needed to do today, short of winning. They did a good job, they gave me a race car that could run in the top five and we finished in the top five with it."
5. Dale Earnhardt, Jr. (-115)
**positions 6-10 are no longer mathematically eligible for the title**
6. Jeff Gordon (-167)
"Solid (performance)," said Gordon. "Not what we wanted, we wanted to get our first win here."
7. Jeff Burton (-225)
"We were never as good as we needed to be, but we just kept fighting and wound up tenth," explained Burton.
8. Mark Martin (-273)
Martin took two tires late in the race to grab track position.
"Yeah, we had a pretty good car," said Martin. "It was awesome on long runs and we didn't get none of that in the second half, but in the first half we were mowing 'em down. It wasn't real good on restarts with new tires and stuff, so we made the most of it. I'm really proud of this team and proud of our run. We could hold our own against those guys once everything settled in and we might have even done a little better with more green flag, but it was a great team effort by a great team."
9. Kasey Kahne (-319)
"The front wouldn't turn and the back was loose in order to try to make it turn," Kahne commented. "It wasn't a fun car to drive, but it was decent. It was a top 10 car and we had a better race than we expected. I couldn't see anything. The sun is straight in your eyes all the way until you have to brake. You just guess and make sure you don't hit the guy in front of you on restarts. He gasses first and then you go. That's just the way it is. I think they should start the race an hour earlier. That causes wrecks."
10. Kyle Busch (-359)
Busch finally had a decent run going but was caught up in an accident on lap 273 that forced the No. 5 Chevy into the garage for repairs.
"We were minding our own business, we weren't very good on the start of runs," said Busch. "What wasn't our business was Stewart getting into the back of McMurray - there was no room for the No. 5 Chevrolet to get through there. Just a tough end for us, we are ready for next year."