The intermediate track-heavy run to the finish is underway this week, and the heavy reliance on downforce and the resultant “aero push” that comes from being in traffic will be prominent this weekend. Now that the race for the title is pretty much a three-man battle – with Carl Edwards barely within shouting distance – the majority of playoff contenders are going to be pushing for wins the rest of the year. The top 10 drivers in average finish at Atlanta are loaded with Chasers, which means that the potential for a non-Chase race winner is once again rather limited. There are some diamonds in the rough that aren’t too far back, though, so making the right midpack choices for your fantasy roster can pay off handsomely for gamers this weekend.
If you’re still doubting Jimmie Johnson’s championship future, well, let’s put it this way: our writers are convinced. Johnson pulled off the sweep this week in the Power Rankings, garnering all 10 first-place votes. But what about the big shifts behind him? Kyle Busch, Matt Kenseth, Jeff Burton and Tony Stewart are just some of the Chasers who had major jumps up and down the ladder this week. Check our rankings to see if your driver kept the short track fenders on or finished without his hood in this week’s Power Rankings.
The television coverage of Chase race number six at Martinsville achieved approximately the same quality level as the other five Chase races. Unfortunately, the network team in front of and behind the camera has not made much progress in correcting ongoing mistakes and heeding to repeated suggestions. At the same time, the things throughout NASCAR on ABC/ESPN broadcasts that are done well continue to show impressively to viewers, giving the production some building blocks upon which to grow. However, the negatives always seem to be remembered more boldly than the positives as the season winds down.
It was the same track, same story for Jimmie Johnson and the No. 48 team, who extended their top-10 streak at Martinsville to 13 races with a win this weekend. Not only did Johnson extend his top-10 streak at the paperclip half-mile, but he also extended his top-10 streak overall to eight races on the season. With Jeff Burton struggling this weekend, Johnson is now the lone driver on this week’s HOT list. While Johnson is clearly the series’ hottest driver and appears to be headed toward a third consecutive championship, a handful of drivers make the WARM list this week. To see if your favorite makes the cut, or if they need nothing more than a solid run at Atlanta, check out the latest edition of Who’s Hot/Who’s Not in Sprint Cup, Chase Edition.
Each week, we’ll go through media reports, interviews, PR, and all our own stuff to find the best quotes from the Sprint Cup race, capturing the story of how the weekend unfolded. It’s the most original commentary you’ll ever find: the truth, coming straight out of the mouths of the drivers, crew members and the car owners themselves. This week, here’s a sneak peek at what a select few were thinking following the TUMS QuikPak 500 at Martinsville Speedway.
Jimmie Johnson got an excellent jump on that final green-white-checkered restart and kept Dale Earnhardt Jr. off his rear bumper.
Martinsville Speedway isn’t for candy-ass drivers or spectators. And that’s the best thing about the joint. Like Fenway Park, one doesn’t go to Martinsville Speedway expecting the comforts and “amenities” of modern-day event facilities. Racing fans in southwest Virginia don’t go to races to sip lattes and possibly meet celebrities. No one goes to the …
Five weeks ago, many pundits — this humble scribe included — boldly predicted the Chase was a two-man battle between Kyle Busch and Carl Edwards. I am hopeful that at the time I picked Jimmie Johnson as a potential spoiler — at least that would make me look less like a moron than I currently feel. But like those disclaimers on mutual funds proclaim in small print, “past performance does not guarantee future results.” So, here at the halfway point let’s take a look at the 12 Chasers and how they’re faring, with the above disclaimer still in play:
10. “It was great to see the front and sniff a little bit of the lead of the race with 25 [laps] to go.” – Kurt Busch
The Chase has reached its halfway point, and for all intents and purposes, we’re down to a three-man race for the title. It’s just not the three men you would have expected after Richmond in September. While Jimmie Johnson remains a major player amongst the Top 15, it’s Jeff Burton and Greg Biffle replacing Carl Edwards and Kyle Busch on the precipice of championship contention. Just how much did Busch and Edwards’ recent mistakes cost them in our Frontstretch rankings? You’ll have to read below to find out just how far they’ve fallen.