|Johnson has big edge over Keselowski at Martinsville (Getty)|
The Linemakers on Sporting News
With four races remaining in the Chase, this week at Martinsville will likely be when we pinpoint where the eventual 2012 NASCAR Sprint Cup Champion made his move. While we expect Jimmie Johnson and Denny Hamlin to run well because of their historical greatness on the flat half-mile track, the real questions this week surround current points leader Brad Keselowski.
Keselowski has been leading the Chase since winning at Chicago six weeks ago to kick off NASCAR’s version of the playoffs. He’s got a seven-point lead with four races to go, but he’s going against the best-of-the-best at Martinsville, a track where he’s averaged an okay 13.4 finish in five career races. That doesn’t come close to stacking up against what the two drivers chasing him have done there.
Hamlin has four wins over his career at the track that is about three hours away from his Chesterfield, Va. hometown. Johnson is a six-time Martinsville winner, who has taken the checkers there in four of his five Championship seasons. Keselowski? Well, he had a career-best ninth-place finish at Martinsville in the spring race.
Even if Johnson has his typically strong showing at the track, Keselowski, should he at least match his career best at Martinsville, could be neck-and-neck with Johnson with three races to go.
It may sound like we’re just assuming Johnson will run in the top 5, but that’s been about as solid a bet as there has been in NASCAR over the past decade. He has 14 top 5 finishes over his last 18 Martinsville races, and his worst finish over that stretch was 12th this spring.
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