NASCAR: Jimmie Johnson Wins on Gas Mileage in Phoenix

Samuel SicaAnalyst IApril 13, 2008

     The Subway Fresh Fit 500 started off with Ryan Newman on pole and Elliott Sadler in second.

     Newman would stay at the head of the field until lap 30 when Jimmie Johnson surpassed him for the lead. Shortly after, a caution came out for Matt Kenseth pounding the wall coming out of Turn Four.

     It was Kenseth's 300th start in his Sprint Cup career but unfortunately it wasn't the kind of finish he was looking for. Kenseth would end up finishing 38th.

     This caution would allow all the leaders to come down pit road for fresh tires and fuel. Newman ended up taking the lead back, thanks to some fast work by his pit crew. Johnson would lose two positions coming out in third.

     After the restart, it didn't take long before Johnson passed Newman again for the lead. The race stayed green until Lap 114, when Joe Nemechek hit the Turn One wall.

     Some drivers had to make green flag pit stops before the caution flag waved so they ended up going one lap down. Under the caution, the remainder of the field came down pit road with Johnson holding serve.

     Johnson led the race until Dale Earnhardt Jr. showed some muscle by taking the lead on Lap 124. Earnhardt's lead would be short-lived, as Johnson passed him back four laps later.

     After Johnson took the lead back, a caution came out for a multi-car accident in Turn Three. Newman was leaking fluid on the track causing other cars to pile in.

     The drivers involved were Newman, Burton, Kenseth, Yeley, Sorenson, and Sauter. The race would be put under the red flag so that the track could be cleaned up.

     When the race was put back under caution, the leaders came down pit road again with Earnhardt coming off first. Earnhardt would end up starting seventh on the restart because six cars stayed out. Johnson would end up leading the field to the restart.

     The strategy of the six cars that stayed out under the last caution did not pay off. A caution waved on Lap 148 for Sorenson pounding the wall due to a flat tire. The six drivers who stayed out last time would come to pit road this time, putting them at the end of the field.

     Earnhardt would take the lead back and led the race until another caution came out for Elliott Sadler's blown motor. The leaders would pit again with Martin Truex beating Earnhardt off pit road. Mark Martin, Jamie McMurray, and Kurt Busch stayed out so Truex restarted in fourth.

     Martin would lead until the seventh caution of the race came out for a spin by David Ragan with 112 laps to go. All the leaders came to pit road again, with Earnhardt retaking the top spot.

     Earnhardt continued to lead until caution flag No. 8 came out with 84 laps to go for a wreck by Khane. The leaders once again made another pit stop, with Earnhardt holding the lead.

     Earnhardt would lead the race until 40 laps remained. Mark Martin, in Earnhardt's old car, took the lead back until he had to make a green flag pit stop for fuel with just 10 laps remaining.

     This put the the race back into the hands of Johnson, who managed to save enough fuel to make it to the finish without stopping. It was Johnson's first win of the season, as well as the first for Hendrick Motor Sports.

     The top ten were Johnson, Bowyer, Hamlin, Edwards, Martin, Burton, Earnhardt, Truex, Biffle, and Kyle Busch. Jeff Burton started the race in the 39th position and finished sixth with the help of fuel mileage. Some other notable finishes were Bobby Labonte in 12th, Jeff Gordon in 13th, Tony Stewart in 14th, and Newman in last place.

     I also want to give a shout out to David Gilliland once again for another great top 15 finish. Gilliland finished in 15th place with no sponsorship on the car. Gilliland needs sponsorship to continue in the Sprint Cup series this year.

     I think that he deserves a sponsor, because he is a talented driver and his team is just as good as the rest of the big name teams in the series.

     The top five in the point standings are Burton, Kyle Busch, Earnhardt, Johnson, and Harvick.

     Phoenix is now in the history books and we can all take a two week break before going to Talladega Super Speedway.