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Edwards Closes Gap, Makes A Johnson Clinch at Phoenix Difficult DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Nov. 2, 2008) -- Gutsy strategy earned Carl Edwards the win at the Dickies 500 at Texas Motor Speedway, and made it difficult for points leader Jimmie Johnson...

Edwards Closes Gap, Makes A Johnson Clinch at Phoenix Difficult

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Nov. 2, 2008) -- Gutsy strategy earned Carl Edwards the win at the Dickies 500 at Texas Motor Speedway, and made it difficult for points leader Jimmie Johnson to clinch at Phoenix.

Edwards' victory slashed his deficit to Johnson, who finished 15th, by 77 -- from 183 to 106.

Johnson needs to leave Phoenix with a 196-point lead over second-place to officially clinch his third consecutive NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship. In other words, Johnson must beat Edwards by 90 points and third-place Greg Biffle by 52 at Phoenix to clinch (Johnson needs to finish 195 points ahead of Biffle to clinch because he owns the tie-breaker). Jeff Burton, 212 points back in fourth place, can also spoil Johnson's clinch hopes by getting within that 195-point "magic number."

If Johnson leaves Phoenix with a 162-point lead, he would need only to start the season-finale at Homestead to clinch a championship. Under this scenario, Johnson has to beat Edwards by 56 and Biffle by 18.

If Johnson finishes seventh or better in the next two races, he will clinch the title, no matter what any other driver does.

Edwards matches up well with Johnson at the remaining two tracks (Phoenix and Homestead). Over the next two tracks, Edwards has an average finish of 12.3 and a Driver Rating of 104.5. Johnson has an average finish of 9.1 and a Driver Rating of 108.1.

-credit: nascar

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Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Greg Biffle , Jimmie Johnson , Carl Edwards