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Johnson wins at Phoenix, eyes third Cup

AVONDALE, Ariz. (Nov. 9, 2008) – Jimmie Johnson had a plan heading into the ninth race of the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup. He wanted to lead the most laps, win the race, and extend his lead in the point standings over second-place Carl Edwards.

Johnson did just that, leading 217 of 313 laps on the way to his third-straight win at Phoenix International Raceway, his seventh of the season and the 40th of his Sprint Cup Series career.

“It was a great night,” said Johnson, driver of the No. 48 Lowe’s Chevrolet. “I’m just so, so happy to have gone out tonight and executed and taken advantage of having a great car and track position.

“Our goal was to come in here and try to win the race.  I can’t thank Chad (Knaus, crew chief) and the guys enough for their hard work. I’m very, very pleased and proud of this race team.”

Johnson’s No. 48 Lowe’s Impala SS started on the pole for the sixth time this season and the first time on Phoenix’s one-mile tri-oval.

While he didn’t lead any laps early, Johnson never fell out of the top five except during green-flag pit stops. He proved to be dominant when he took the lead for the first time on Lap 81, leading all but 15 circuits for the rest of the race.

The victory widened Johnson’s lead over Edwards to 141 points.