Johnson wins at PhoenixWhen a fluke accident cost Jimmie Johnson a huge chunk of his points lead, he knew there was no more room for error in his bid to win a NASCAR record fourth consecutive championship.
AVONDALE, Ariz. (AP) — When a fluke accident cost Jimmie Johnson a huge chunk of his points lead, he knew there was no more room for error in his bid to win a NASCAR record fourth consecutive championship.
But when it came time to plot a strategy for Phoenix International Raceway, playing it safe was never an option.
Johnson cruised to a dominating victory Sunday that moved him to the edge of history, winning the fourth race of this Chase for the Sprint Cup championship in what his rivals considered a “statement” showing.
“I guess in the end it could be looked at like that,” Johnson acknowledged. “It was, ‘Hey, guys, you know, we need to step up and get it done ... we need to show what we’re made of, we need to get this done.’
“I guess in the end, it could have been a statement that we’re sending. I’m very proud of the fact we looked each other in the eyes, knew what we had to do, and delivered.”
Johnson was wrecked on the third lap of last week’s race at Texas, and sat inside his disabled race car as his crew did a total rebuild of the Chevrolet. He limped to a 38th-place finish that sliced his lead in the standings to just 73 points over Hendrick Motorsports teammate Mark Martin.
His win at Phoenix — Johnson’s fourth in the last five races here, and seventh victory of the season — stretched his lead to 108 points over Martin heading into the finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Johnson needs to finish 25th or better next week to grab a spot in NASCAR’s record books.
“We gave it everything we had,” said Martin, who finished fourth.