Sprint Cup Racing heads to Martinsville Speedway

Posted by Andy Durham on October 14, 2008 at 9:46 am under Professional | Comments are off for this article

Richard Childress Racing’s Jeff Burton may have taken over the role of driver to watch in NASCAR’s Chase For The Sprint Cup, but Jimmie Johnson remains firmly atop the standings as the Hendrick Motorsports driver seeks to become only the second in history to win three straight Cup titles.

Saturday night’s Bank of America 500 at Lowe’s Motor Speedway was unkind to Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Carl Edwards, dampening their championship hopes. But Johnson’s sixth-place finish helped him maintain a 69-point lead over second place, which is now occupied by Burton.

A mechanical problem was costly for Edwards, who spent 16 laps watching his Roush Fenway Racing team work on his car before finishing 33rd. He fell to fourth in the standings, 168 points behind Johnson. Earnhardt Jr. was involved in an accident and relegated to a 36th-place finish. That puts him 10th in the standings, 354 points behind his Hendrick teammate Johnson.

With half of the Chase races completed, only two drivers are within 100 points of Johnson. Four are within 200 points, and seven are within 300. Now the series heads to Martinsville Speedway for Sunday’s Tums Quikpak 500, the lone short-track race in the title-determining Chase.

Here’s a look at how the 12 Chase drivers have fared to date this season and how they’ve performed at Martinsville in the past:

1. Jimmie Johnson, No. 48 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet: Johnson, 33, has recorded five consecutive top-10 finishes in the Chase. The two-time defending Cup champion has five wins, 12 top-five and 19 top-10 finishes in 31 starts this season. He has only one DNF in 2008. Johnson finished fourth at Martinsville in April and has four wins, nine top-five and 12 top-10 finishes there for an average finish of 6.0.

2. Jeff Burton, No. 31 Richard Childress Racing (-69): Burton, 41, has two victories, seven top-five and 17 top-10 finishes this season. He has also finished 29 of 31 events in 2008. Burton finished third at Martinsville in March, a track where he has one win, 10 top-five and 14 top-10 finishes, with an average finish of 14.5.

3. Greg Biffle, No. 16 Roush Fenway Racing Ford (-86): Biffle, 38, started hot in the Chase, with two wins and a third-place finish in the first three races. He has two wins, 11 top-five and 15 top-10 finishes this season, with only three DNFs. He finished 20th at Martinsville in March and has one top-10 finish at the track with an average finish of 23.6 there.

4. Carl Edwards, No. 99 Roush Fenway Racing Ford (-168 points): Edwards, 29, has six victories this season, 14 top-five and 22 top-10s. He finished ninth in March at Martinsville, a track where he has one top-10 and an average finish of 19.1.

5. Clint Bowyer, No. 07 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet (-185): Bowyer, 29, has one win, five top-five and 14 top-10 finishes this season. He finished 10th at Martinsville in March. Bowyer has two top-10 finishes at the track, with an average finish of 15.0 there.

6. Kevin Harvick, No. 29 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet (-207): Harvick, 32, had a streak of nine consecutive top-10 finishes ended at Talladega and struggled again at Lowe’s Motor Speedway, where he finished 13th. He has six top-five and 15 top-10 finishes for the season. He finished 12th at Martinsville in March, a track where he has five top-10 finishes. Harvick has an average finish of 18.8 there.

7. Tony Stewart, No. 20 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota (-228): Stewart, 37, scored his first victory of 2008 at Talladega. He has one win, 10 top-fives and 15 top-10s this season. He finished fifth at Martinsville in March and has two wins, seven top-five and 11 top-10 finishes at the track with an average finish of 11.9.

8. Jeff Gordon, No. 24, Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet (-245): Gordon, 37, has 10 top-five and 15 top-10 finishes this season, but the four-time Cup champion remains winless. Gordon also has five DNFs. He finished second at Martinsville in March and has seven wins, 19 top-five and 25 top-10 finishes at the track as well as seven pole positions. He has an average finish of 7.0 there.

9. Kyle Busch, No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota (-326): Busch, 23, has the most victories this season (eight), with 16 top-five and 18 top-10 finishes. Busch, however, has only one top-10 finish in the Chase. He finished 38th at Martinsville at March, a track were he has three top-five and four top-10 finishes. Busch has an average finish of 16.7 there.

10. Dale Earnhardt Jr., No. 88 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet (-354): Earnhardt, 33, has one victory, nine top-five and 14 top-10 finishes this season. He finished sixth at Martinsville in March and has seven top-five and eight top-10 finishes at the track. Earnhardt Jr. has an average finish of 14.3 there.

11. Matt Kenseth, No. 17 Roush Fenway Racing Ford (-360): Kenseth, 36, has eight top-five and 17 top-10 finishes this season. Kenseth finished 30th at Martinsville in March. He has two top-five and five top-10 finishes at the track for an average finish of 16.5 there.

12. Denny Hamlin, No. 11 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota (-380): Hamlin, 27, has one victory, nine top-five and 15 top-10 finishes this season. He won at Martinsville in March and also has three top-five and five top-10 finishes there. Hamlin has an average finish of 9.5 at Martinsville.

*****from Jim Modlin, courtesy of scenedaily.com*****


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