(photo courtesy of Leon Hammack)
Even though Jimmie Johnson is in close proximity in the standings, Mark Martin subtly reminded the media that he is still leading the points in the Chase for the Sprint Cup. As they, Martin and Johnson, put some distance between Juan Pablo Montoya (JPM), Kurt Busch, and Tony Stewart, that trio made their presence known at Dover with position gains that further defined the group trying to deny Johnson a record fourth championship in a row.
This year the margin that separates the top five drivers is 106 points. Each of the top five teams came away from Dover with something to build on for the race this week at Kansas. Montoya (JPM) moved into third place in the standings via a fourth place finish in the race at Dover. Kurt Busch, the 2004 Cup Champion, ran to a drama- fifth place at Dover. Remember his crew chief, Pat Tryson, is banned from the race shop except for the Tuesday post-race briefing. Tony Stewart moved into fifth place in the standings with his finish of ninth in the race at Dover. Of the rest of the competitors in the Chase, only Jeff Gordon gained on the leaders in the Chase.
Even tough Mark Martin is in the lead, it is of the slimmest margin, just 10 points! To most observers that is most likely considered a dead heat, in view of the killer instincts of the #48 Lowe’s Chevy race team! Johnson and crew have won 15 out of the 52 total races ran during the Chase! That is dominance, pure and simple!
The championship picture will start to sort itself after this Sunday. There will probably be a couple of teams that will mathematically eliminate themselves form being a serious contender for 2009. Nevertheless, the race from Kansas will be as exciting and as thrilling as it was last year when Carl Edwards tried to dive under Johnson, bounce off the wall and drive on to victory, but he failed!
TIL NEXT TIME, I AM STILL WORKING ON MY REDNECK!