Jimmie in Checker O'Reilly Auto Parts 500
Triple Play: It's Jimmie in the Checker O'Reilly Auto Parts 500
The champagne is on ice, a confetti cannon is ready for launch, and somewhere, an established silversmith is practicing a trade he's come to know all too well since 2006. Jimmie Johnson closed in on his third consecutive Sprint Cup Series championship Sunday at Phoenix International Raceway with a third straight of another kind: a win in the Valley of the Sun. Johnson dominated the Checker O'Reilly Auto Parts 500 Presented by Pennzoil with a performance that's become familiar to fans in Phoenix. By leading 217 of 313 laps in the No. 48 Chevrolet, Johnson notched his seventh victory of 2008 and became the first driver in PIR's 21-year Sprint Cup Series history to win in three consecutive races on the one-mile oval. Davey Allison, Jeff Burton, Dale Earnhardt Jr., and Kevin Harvick have all won two in a row at Phoenix. Though he started on the pole, Johnson surrendered the lead on the race's opening lap to Jamie McMurray, who held the point through Lap 21. Eventual runner-up Kurt Busch controlled the track until Lap 80, holding the lead on both ends of a 23-minute, 37-second red flag for a rare Arizona rain shower. Johnson was the boss for much of the race's remainder, leading for stretches of 20, 102, and the final 95 laps to coast to Gatorade Victory Lane. McMurray, Carl Edwards, and Denny Hamlin rounded out the top five. Dale Earnhardt Jr., Kevin Harvick, Kyle Busch, Jeff Burton, and David Ragan finished in order to complete the top 10. A mere 36th-place finish at Homestead-Miami next week will give Johnson the championship. Even if second-place Edwards wins and leads the most laps - a 195-point day - Johnson would clinch the title with the 36th-place finish. Johnson can also clinch the Sprint Cup by finishing 37th and leading at least one lap, or by finishing 39th and leading the most laps.
Related PIR News
Two-time Olympian and current UFC star Dan Henderson will lead the field to the green flag behind the wheel of the Official Toyota Camry Pace Car at the start of the CampingWorld.com 500 at Phoenix International Raceway on Sunday, March 15. Henderson’s appearance was the result of a partnership between PIR and Niner Sports & Entertainment. As the official pace car driver, the 44-year old mixed martial artist will take an honorary lap around the one-mile oval.
Phoenix International Raceway was honored twice in recent weeks by NASCAR for outstanding work in the areas of marketing and community outreach. Earlier this year, PIR's 50th Anniversary was named NASCAR's Marketing Campaign of the Year and the PIR Track Services team received NASCAR's Track Services Teamwork Award; and today, PIR Communications Manager Greg Fresquez received NASCAR's Industry Ambassador Award.
NASCAR Sprint Cup Series star Kevin Harvick, driver of the No. 4 Budweiser Chevrolet, is scheduled to appear at Phoenix International Raceway’s Budweiser ROLL-BAR Club for a moderated question and answer session before the CampingWorld.com 500 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race on Sunday, March 15.
Phoenix International Raceway hosted up-and-coming driver Ruben Garcia Jr. from the NASCAR Mexico Series as he spoke to more than 2,000 high school students at La Joya Community High School in Avondale on Wednesday, Feb. 18. In addition to his racing background, Garcia talked with the students about the importance of education and pursuing their goals.
Fans coming to the CampingWorld.com 500 at Phoenix International Raceway will be in for a treat prior to the race. That morning, the popular Grammy-nominated and multi-platinum rock group Tonic will perform a pre-race concert in the fan midway area at 10:30 a.m. MST.