Jimmie Johnson hoping to edge closer to another NASCAR Championship

Updated: November 9, 2012

After winning back-to-back Sprint Cup races, Jimmie Johnson is riding a wave of momentum as he closes in on a possible sixth Sprint Cup championship.With wins in the last two races in the Chase for the Sprint Cup, he has a seven-point lead on Brad Keselowski, a 28-year-old driver who is looking not only for his first Cup title but the first for Penske Racing. Only two races remain—Sunday at Phoenix and the Nov. 18 season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway.Winning a third straight race in the Chase is not unprecedented for Johnson. He won four straight races in 2007 to win his second title and has a record 22 wins in Chase races. In his five championship seasons, he led the standings four times after race No. 34. Johnson has taken few chances, using conservative strategy and relying on his pit crew to perform flawlessly.

Keselowski, meanwhile, has tried to keep pace with Johnson with an aggressive approach. He has gambled on pit strategy the last two weeks, taking just two tires late in races to get the lead. He tried to hold off Johnson last week during a fierce, door-banging duel on the final two restarts.

Knaus and Johnson won five consecutive titles from 2006-2010. They rarely have had mechanical issues during the Chase and typically run at their best in the final 10 races.

Phoenix typically is a comfort zone for Johnson. He has four career wins there and had 10 top fives until the track was repaved and reconfigured last year. He finished 14th there last November, but in March, he led 55 laps and finished fourth one spot ahead of Keselowski.

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