By Doug Halberstadt
Even though there is one race remaining in the NASCAR 2009 Chase for the Sprint Cup, I think it’s fairly safe to say Jimmie Johnson and his crew chief, Rockford native Chad Knaus, have wrapped up their record fourth consecutive championship.
Johnson and Knaus have come to be known around NASCAR as the “Dynamic Duo.” Barring total disaster this weekend at Homestead-Miami Speedway, the two will celebrate another Sprint Cup championship and enter their names into NASCAR’s record books. Johnson only has to finish 25th or better to accomplish what no other driver in history has been able to do—win four consecutive NASCAR season championships.
Johnson’s victory at Phoenix last weekend stretched his lead to 108 points over his Hendrick Motorsports teammate and sentimental favorite Mark Martin, and all but guaranteed him another championship. The victory was the seventh of the 2009 season for Johnson and his Lowe’s No. 48 Chevrolet team. It is the team’s fourth victory out of nine races since the start of the Chase for the Sprint Cup championship.
It looks as though Martin will finish second in the standings for the fifth time in his career. Martin, the perennial bridesmaid, said in an interview following last Sunday’s (Nov. 15) race, “We gave it everything we had.”
Johnson’s most recent win was the 47th of his career. It pushed him ahead of Buck Baker for 13th on the career win list.
The 36th, and final, race of the year will be televised Sunday (Nov. 22) on ABC beginning at 1:30 p.m. local time.
Doug Halberstadt can be reached via e-mail at Dougster61@aol.com.
From the November 18-24, 2009 issue