Jimmie Johnson about to turn out lights in NASCAR Chase

Nov 11, 2008 5:09 PM

Finish Line by Micah Roberts |

When former Dallas Cowboys QB Don Meredith would start to sing, "Turn out the lights, the party’s over," we would all get a sense at home that the Monday night football game was truly over.

In NASCAR’s Sprint Cup circuit, not only is "Dandy Don" singing, but the fat lady has joined him in a duet signaling Good Night to the stock car season.

Jimmie Johnson has a 141-point lead going into this Sunday’s season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway. The only driver still breathing in the Chase is Carl Edwards, as all others have been mathematically eliminated.

Even if Edwards were to win and lead the most laps on Sunday, a 195-point day, Johnson merely needs to finish 36th or better. Edwards says that anything can happen, which is true, but not with Johnson.

The 10-race Chase to the Championship is all about consistency, and Johnson once again showed that no one is better. In the nine races leading up to this week’s race, Johnson has three wins, six top 5’s, and 8 top 10’s for an average finish of 4.7.

That is how you seal the deal!

While Carl Edwards has been impressive himself in his own right, he would have had to have been nearly perfect to take the hardware from Johnson. Jimmie will now become only the second driver to win three straight NASCAR Championships tying Cale Yarborough.

There doesn’t look to be any hope for the rest of the circuit in stopping Johnson from winning four in a row either. The only thing that can slow him down might be a sagging economy and General Motors.

At the beginning of the season, Johnson could have been had to win it all at 9-2 odds. Even as the Chase began with Kyle Busch as the favorite, Johnson still could be found with great value. His projected season win total was 6 (under -200) – the favorite.

Johnson won his seventh race of the season last week in Phoenix. In a matchup of who would have the most season points at the conclusion of the 2008 season, Johnson was a -150 favorite over Jeff Gordon.

This week in Homestead, Florida (30 miles south of Miami) Johnson could be considered a candidate to win. However, the last four seasons the race could have been called the Ford 400 in regard to the success of the Roush Fords.

This is a high-banked fast 1.5- mile track, but configured much differently than the traditional tracks like Charlotte and Atlanta.

The teams that have done well there in the past have distinction of doing well on the more familiar D-shaped or tri-oval tracks. Edwards would fit the bill as the leading candidate to win because he meets all the requirements.

How Johnson treats this race is a tough question. In the past he has been reluctant to sit back and collect points. He scoops everything possible and never settles for an average finish.

By having to finish 36th or better to ensure a win, he could lay back for a while, wait for all the jalopies to wreck themselves, and then guarantee himself the title so he can safely race all out. It would be kind of nice to see a driver win the race and Championship to finish the season.

Edwards is going to be extremely difficult to beat this week, but a live Vegas underdog that should be able to keep up is Kurt Busch. The team has really being getting it together lately. The combination or new motors and enthusiasm within the organization is something that stands out.

We know Kurt can run well at Homestead, having won in 2002. He clinched his Championship there in 2004, and ran second to a dominant Matt Kenseth car there last season. We’ll go with a Dodge to win this week’s Ford 400.

The two other major NASCAR series will be crowning Champions as well this weekend at Homestead-Miami Speedway. The Trucks will race Friday with Johnny Benson leading by only 3. Benson is an ex- Grand National series Champion while Ron Hornaday seeks a fourth Truck Championship.

In Saturday’s Nationwide Series race, Clint Bowyer holds a 56-point lead over Edwards for the title. All Bowyer has to do to clinch the title is finish eighth or better in the race.

The three races are available for wagering at all the Station Casinos sports books around the Valley, including Aliante Station which opened Tuesday night near the Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

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