Today's race was 500 laps at the half-mile, paperclip-shaped track known as Martinsville Speedway in Virginia. It marked race 6 in this year's Chase for the Sprint Cup. Denny Hamlin and Jimmie Johnson fought most of the race, but Hamlin prevailed. Juan Pablo Montoya and Jeff Gordon also had strong runs to keep their Chase hopes alive.
So I name-dropped a few people in my last post. Here's an update on each:
Jimmie Johnson - Started the Chase in a tie for 2nd with 3 wins...he's doubled that number with wins in races 2, 4, and 5 of the Chase. Winning is king in NASCAR, and it doesn't hurt that all his Chase finishes are top 10s. Jimmie has an average finish of 3.0 in these 6 races. He came home 2nd to Denny Hamlin today and now has a 118 point lead over....
Mark Martin - Started the Chase in 1st and won the first race of NASCAR's playoffs. He's run well, but with only 1 win and an average finish of 6.5, he's fallen back a bit. The real problem came last week in Charlotte where Martin finished 17. Points drop off if you miss the top 5, and they plummet outside the top 10.
Tony Stewart - Won Chase race #3 at Texas Motor Speedway, a track that's been good to Tony before. He's been a bit inconsistent, but still has some fight left. Talladega is a track Tony has historically run well. He needs another big day next week to get back in the Chase. Currently, Tony sits 4th, 192 points back of Jimmie.
Carl Edwards - Carl broke his foot right before the Chase started. Whether or not that accounts for his poor performance, I can't say for certain. Nonetheless, Carl's average finish has been 17.167...not worthy of Chase status. He did have a blown engine a few weeks back resulting in a 39th, but without that he's still averaging 12.8 which isn't good enough. Carl is now 413 points back of JJ in 10th.
As I mentioned, next week is Talladega...the wildcard/crapshoot/lottery racetrack of NASCAR. I usually end my NASCAR blogs with endorsements to watch a certain race. I don't blog about NASCAR much, but if I do, you know a big event is coming. 'Dega is always nerve-wracking for the drivers and fans, because at any moment, a tiny mistake can result in a 10 to 20 car pile-up, known affectionately as "The Big One."
Though some drivers in the Chase have had problems that have pretty much eliminated all hopes of a Championship, a bad crash by Jimmie Johnson at Talladega would likely cost him 150 points off his lead over any other Chasers who finish up front. Drivers still alive for the Championship and looking to capitalize on possible mistakes are Martin, Gordon, Stewart, Montoya, and Kurt Busch. However it all goes down, we should have a clear picture of who's Chase is over, and who still has a shot at stopping Jimmie from 4-in-a-row!