Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Martinsville Preview: Johnson, Gordon and Hamlin to mix it up again

Johnson does everything well at Martinsville
Jimmie Johnson is home free for his sixth NASCAR Sprint Cup Title, according to updated odds posted at the LVH Super Book where Johnson is an overwhelming 1/3 favorite (Bet $300 to win $100) over second place Matt Kenseth (2/1). Four races still remain before the champion is crowned and Johnson is sitting atop the standings for the first time during the Chase with a slim four-point lead.

Last week at Talladega, Johnson was able to lead the most laps while finishing 13th and gained his separation in points when Kenseth finished 20th. Talladega was a wild card where anything can happen, but Kenseth can’t be happy with his finish. He was running up front most of the race, and to finish that poorly without wrecking will be race Kenseth points to as the one where he lost the championship if Johnson should be holding the big trophy next month.

Speaking of big trophies, Johnson’s trophy case may have had to been expanded just because of all his Martinsville trophies. They don’t hand out normal trophies for winning races there. No, they have the tradition of giving out giant grandfather clocks to the winner and in the first race held there this season in April, Johnson took home his eighth grand-daddy clock, the most among all active drivers.

It’s this weeks race at Martinsville that is the key component in Johnson being such a large favorite despite having such a small point lead. Johnson has dominated Martinsville like no one else in the series while the half-mile flat track hasn’t necessarily been Kenseth’s best. In 27 Martinsville starts, Kenseth doesn’t have a win and has finished in the top-5 only three times.

For Johnson, this isn’t a place like Charlotte where most of his wins came seven to eight years ago, and is shadow of his former self there. He is currently on his dominant Martinsville streak winning the past two races there. In April, he led five times for a race high 346 laps. Ironically, Kenseth had one of his better runs at Martinsville, leading three times for 96 laps, but settled for a 14th-place finish. It was Johnson who passed Kenseth with 37 laps to go to take the lead for good.


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