By admin | October 25, 2011
By Richard Allen
It seems as though many fans and media alike are afraid to pronounce Jimmie Johnson’s Sprint Cup title hopes as dead. Well, if those hopes are not done for, they’re on life support. As of now, the five time consecutive champion is 50 points behind leader Carl Edwards. With the new points scoring system put in place this year by NASCAR, that’s more than can be gained in a single race.
If no one else wants to declare Johnson’s bid for a sixth championship over with, mathematics is about to do it for them.
But along with Johnson fighting for his championship life, two of the drivers thought to be among his most dangerous challengers coming into the Chase for the Championship playoff are also near mathematical elimination. Brothers Kurt and Kyle Busch have deficits that with only four races remaining will be difficult to overcome.
Kurt Busch trails Edwards by 52 points while the leader’s advantage over Kyle Busch stands at 40.
These numbers don’t lie. Each of these three drivers is on the verge of de facto elimination if they cannot make a move in Martinsville. After Sunday, there will only be three races left on the schedule and to leave Virginia with the same deficits or worse will not be good enough. Johnson and the Busch brothers must make up ground in the Tums Fast Relief 500.
And this may be just the race to make that happen. The top-2 in the standings, Carl Edwards and Matt Kenseth, do not count this as one of their better tracks( http://racingwithrich.com/?p=1552 ).
While the two Roush Fenway drivers struggle on the paper clip shaped half-mile, Johnson is stellar there. He has amassed six wins throughout his career in Martinsville and has an amazing average finish position of 5th. If there has ever been a track where this driver could make up ground, this is it.
However, the often controversial brothers from Las Vegas have not had the same success as Johnson here.
Kyle Busch has never won a race at this venue and his average finish is but a mediocre 15th. The younger Busch can boast of six top-5 runs on the track but he has also scored five finishes outside the top-20.
Like his brother, Kurt Busch has been inconsistent at best in the small Virginia hamlet. He did win once on the relatively flat oval but has had little else to brag about. The elder Busch’s average finish is a dismal 21st.
For Jimmie Johnson as well as Kurt and Kyle Busch this weekend is a time of now or never if they are to remain contenders for the Sprint Cup title. Johnson simply needs to keep on doing what he has always done at Martinsville and hope to take advantage of the top-2 drivers’ weakness on the track. However, the Busch brothers must step up their performance on a track that has not always been so kind to them.
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