By Keith Waltz
Jimmie Johnson took firm hold of his second consecutive NASCAR Cup Series championship on Nov. 11, 2007, by winning the Checker Auto Parts 500 at Phoenix International Raceway.
The victory was Johnson’s fourth straight and 10th of the season, the most in both categories since Jeff Gordon won four in a row and notched 13 wins during his 1998 title season.
Johnson needed only an 18th-place finish in the season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway to clinch the championship regardless of where title-rival Gordon ended up.
“I’m just trying to keep it simple and not get caught up in things,” Johnson said. “I hope I can do that this week. Show up, keep it simple and get in the race car and go. I don’t want to act like it’s our championship, yet. We have a nice margin in the points right now, but 400 miles, that’s my goal.”
Even though he was still mathematically in the hunt, Gordon said, “It’s over. Unless you lead every lap and beat Jimmie Johnson and win the race, you don’t have a shot at it. Those guys are on an unbelievable role.”
That Sunday afternoon in the Arizona desert, Johnson’s No. 48 Chevrolet led 55 of the 312 laps, including the final 24 trips around the one-mile track. He beat Greg Biffle to the checkered flag by .870 seconds.