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Jimmie Johnson gets strong performance from Jeff Gordon's pit crew

Johnson, who swapped crews with his Hendrick Motorsports teammate to finish out the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season, finished fifth in the Kobalt Tools 500 at Phoenix International Raceway. Gordon finished 11th.

November 15, 2010|By Jim Peltz

Reporting from Avondale, Ariz. — Jimmie Johnson's, er, Jeff Gordon's pit crew performed just as requested Sunday.

The NASCAR drivers' team, Hendrick Motorsports, took the unusual step of swapping their crews in the middle of last week's race in Texas and left the change in place for the last two races at Phoenix and Homestead-Miami Speedway in Florida.

The Gordon crew now working on Johnson's car "did an awesome job" Sunday as Johnson finished fifth in the Kobalt Tools 500 at Phoenix International Raceway, Johnson said.

"Their [pit] stops would pick up a couple spots every time," he said. "They looked calm, relaxed."

Gordon, meanwhile, finished 11th on Sunday in his No. 24 Chevrolet with Johnson's pit crew.

After Johnson's normal crew struggled with early pit stops at Texas, Hendrick swapped the crews to help Johnson's quest for a fifth consecutive Sprint Cup Series championship.

"I went in the 24 truck to see my old boys" before Sunday's race, Johnson said. "They couldn't be happier, wished me luck. It wasn't an easy situation, but everybody's pulling in the right direction."

Logano's numbers

Joey Logano has an interesting numerical streak going: In his last five races, he's finished seventh, sixth, fifth, fourth and, on Sunday, third.

"That's pretty crazy," said Logano, who drives the No. 20 Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing.

"We had a lot of things that went wrong during the race; we didn't start the race very well at all" and eventually fell out of the top 20 before rebounding, he said. "Everyone kept their head in the game and did a good job."

Roush revival

Roush Fenway Racing, whose four drivers often have struggled this season, posted a strong showing Sunday — starting with winner Carl Edwards, who broke a 70-race winless streak.

His teammates Greg Biffle and Matt Kenseth finished fourth and seventh, respectively. Both qualified for NASCAR's Chase for the Cup title playoff but have been eliminated. Only the team's David Ragan struggled all day and finished 25th.

james.peltz@latimes.com

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