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Only Hamlin and Harvick remain with a shot at Johnson

By admin | October 17, 2010



By Richard Allen

If you are one of those fans rooting against a fifth consecutive title by driver Jimmie Johnson you are down to only two options with a chance to derail his ‘drive for five’.

After Saturday’s Bank of America 500 at the Charlotte Motor Speedway, Johnson holds a 41 point lead over Denny Hamlin and a 77 point advantage over Kevin Harvick. Everyone else is more than 150 points behind. The most a driver can gain in one race is 161 points which means that after start and park cars are taken into consideration, everyone from 4th place in the standings on back is at least a full race behind with only five events to go in 2010.

Johnson and crew chief Chad Knaus have shown over the last four years that they know how to play the Chase for the Championship game better than everyone else and this year is only serving to further confirm what was already known.

Since Johnson secured his unprecedented fourth consecutive title in 2009 debate has taken place as to the significance of a fifth title. Some have speculated that another Johnson title would cause even more empty grandstands and lowered television ratings in NASCAR’s future as fans would become further disenchanted with the goings on of the sport.

The debate as to what a fifth Johnson title will mean for the sport is quickly becoming more necessary. For a driver and team with championship winning experience to have any sort of a lead this late in the going is not a good sign for the competition. And the pressure of having to maintain pace with the Hendrick Motorsports #48 bunch has already forced most of those competitors out of contention.

At the start of the Chase I picked Johnson to repeat once more. I am even more convinced now that the prediction was the right one.

Earlier in the season when Jeff Gordon was angered by Johnson he began referring to him as ‘ole four time’. It looks more and more like that name will only apply for a few more weeks. Only Hamlin and Harvick have any chance to prevent yet another milestone from taking place.

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Richard Allen is a member of the National Motorsports Press Association. His weekly columns appear in The Mountain Press and The Knoxville Journal.

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