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Last updateWed, 27 Dec 2017 12am

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NASCAR’s King of the Hill

While waiting for the coronation of Jimmie Johnson for his fourth straight NASCAR Cup Championship, we should be aware of another historic achievement by his team owner, Hendrick Motorsports.
Much has been made of Jimmie Johnson’s impending fourth consecutive Sprint Cup Championship. This season also marks the first time in the sport’s history that one organization has swept the first three positions in the points race. The only question with two races to go, is whether Mark Martin or Jeff Gordon will finish second. Barring an early exit in either race for Martin or Gordon it looks like Johnson, Martin, and Gordon in that order.

Read more: NASCAR’s King of the Hill

Surviving wild day at Talladega gives Johnson near insurmountable lead

Oh, what might have been for Chesterfield native Denny Hamlin. His win in the Tums Fast Relief 500 at Martinsville after an accident while leading, and an engine failure in successive weeks all but cooked his title chances. Small consolation. Hamlin became the first Virginia driver since Joe Weatherly in 1961 to win at Richmond International and Martinsville in the same season.

“Of course everyone knows anything can happen,” Hamlins said during practice at Talladega Superspeedway last weekend.
Hamlin’s comments were typical of most of the drivers going into last Sunday’s AMP Energy 500 at Talladega. The final restrictor plate race of the season has a well-earned reputation for shaking things up. Going into last Sunday’s race ranked first in restrictor plate driver ratings. He’s also ranked at or near the top of many of the pre-race driving stats at Talladega. Of the drivers who have driven more than one Talladega race since 2005, Hamlin ranks first in driver rating, second in average running position, and seventh in laps led.

Read more: Surviving wild day at Talladega gives Johnson near insurmountable lead

Saturday is halfway for the Chase

 This Saturday night’s Bank of America 500 from Lowe’s Motor Speedway marks the halfway mark in this year’s Chase for the Sprint Cup.  Of all the top 12 Chase contenders this season, one of them has a little more on his plate than the rest. Tony Stewart co-owns Stewart-Haas Racing and also drives the No. 14 Chevrolet and has been able to do both while competing for this season’s championship.

Read more: Saturday is halfway for the Chase

Fear not a factor for Joey Lagano

Just six days after a horrific crash at Dover during the AAA 400, the youngster bounced back to beat Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Kyle Busch in the Nationwide Series race last Saturday at Kansas Speedway.

Read more: Fear not a factor for Joey Lagano

Hamlin, Edwards on opposite ends of Chase

Last Sunday’s race at Dover International Speedway was important for two drivers on opposite sides of the Chase standings: Denny Hamlin and Carl Edwards. Hamlin, the leading points earner during the 10-event Race to the Chase, capitalized on the momentum with a runner-up finish at New Hampshire a week ago. He came into Dover last weekend third in points, 35 behind leader Mark Martin. Hamlin was not looking forward to facing Dover’s “Monster Mile,” a track that has been less than kind to Hamlin thus far in his young career.

Read more: Hamlin, Edwards on opposite ends of Chase

Ageless Mark Martin is top Chase seed

At the end of the 2006 Sprint Cup Season, Mark Martin spurned full-time competition, saying he was ready for a break. Martin was spending a lot of his time helping his son Matt with his budding driving career.
Fast forward to 2009, at age 16, his son decided that a career in racing was not his thing. Then Hendrick Motorsports owner Rick Hendrick made Martin an offer he couldn’t refuse, and in his first full time season since 2006, Mark has rewarded Rick Hendrick’s faith in him.
Teamed with crew chief Alan Gustafson, 50-year-old Martin entered last Sunday’s Sylvania 300 as the top seed in the 2009 Chase for the Sprint Cup, on the strength of four wins during the season’s first 26 races. His reset point total was 5,040, 10 points ahead of second seed Tony Stewart and third seed Jimmie Johnson.
Martin has never won at New Hampshire; however, he does have eight top fives, 13 top 10s and two poles at the flat New England 1-mile track.
“Every track that we’ve come back to a second time this year, Alan and these guys have brought me a better race car than we had the time before,” Martin said in New York at NASCAR’s media blitz of the city before heading on to New Hampshire.

Read more: Ageless Mark Martin is top Chase seed

 

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