No one#8217;s gonna catch him
Published 12:00 am Saturday, November 17, 2007
The fourth edition of the Chase for the Nextel comes to an end this Sunday at Miami Homestead Speedway. Even though this Chase is sort of like playing freeze tag with Carl Lewis, no one will catch Jimmie Johnson and that has been a foregone conclusion for about a month now.
Johnson’s unbelievable hot streak, winning the last four races, has moved him to 86 points ahead of Jeff Gordon and made the 2007 version of the chase not much fun. Johnson will be the first to win consecutive championships since Gordon in 1998 and will cap off the most dominant season in recent memory. Johnson’s 10 wins and 20 top-fives in 2007 are the most since Gordon’s 13 wins and 26 top-fives in 1998. Not counting the race Sunday, Johnson has won 29% of the races in 2007,
Mathematically, Gordon still has a shot to capture his fifth championship Sunday, but hey, the Atlanta Falcons still have a mathematical chance of winning the Super Bowl. Neither will happen. If Johnson finishes 18th or better, he wins. Or if Gordon finishes 15th or worse, Johnson wins.
This weekend at Miami is being billed as “Championship Weekend,” with all three of the major series running races. Only one of the three holds any doubt of who will walk away with the trophy. Much like Johnson, Carl Edwards walked away with the Busch championship, with a 571 point lead going into the weekend.
However, in the Craftsman Truck series, Mike Skinner leads Ron Hornaday by only 29 points.
Many fans, and more importantly, drivers say that the truck series is the most competitive and entertaining of the three series. If you ever have the occasion of watching these races, mostly on Friday nights, you would agree.
Sunday will be a day of lasts for many drivers. Ricky Rudd will participate in his last race after a 32 year career, spanning 33 years. Dale Earnhardt, Jr will drive his last race for Dale Earnhardt, Inc. Dale Jarrett will spend his last Sunday as a full-time driver as he is only competing in the first six races next season.
It will be the final race for the Chevrolet Monte Carlo, the all time leader in wins for a particular model. All races will be run in the COT next season and Chevrolet will field the Impala next season. Kyle Busch will say goodbye to Hendrick Motorsports and Chevrolet, moving to Joe Gibbs and Toyota next season.
Make no mistake, the telecast Sunday on ABC will be full of these types of “look-backs,” given the lack of any suspense with the race.
Jimmie Johnson or Greg Biffle will have a streak broken Sunday. Johnson’s four race win streak will be broken or Biffle’s three-race win streak at Miami will be broken. I think both will be broken. My pick to win Sunday is Martin Truex, Jr.
Jeff Findley is the Publisher of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald and Gates County Index and is a syndicated NASCAR columnist. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.