The one thing Nascar Sprint Cup points leader Brad Keselowski has never taken away from the .526 mile Paper Clip known as Martinsville Speedway, is a victory. In five starts at the Chase’s last short track on the 2012 schedule, he has only managed two top 10 finishes. He finished 9th in the spring race after qualifying 7th. The same can’t be said for his two closest competitors.
Oct 20, 2012; Kansas City, KS, USA; NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Brad Keselowski (2) takes practice laps for the Hollywood Casino 400 at the Kansas Speedway. Mandatory Credit: Peter G. Aiken-US PRESSWIRE
From the fall of 2006 through fall of 2010, either Jimmie Johnson or DennyHamlin won every Martinsville race. The two have a combined 10 Martinsville victories (Johnson six – four in the Chase; Hamlin four – two in the Chase). Johnson owns the track’s top Driver Rating (121.4) and average finish (5.8) and has led 17.0% of the laps in the 21 races he’s competed. Hamlin isn’t far behind with a third-best Driver Rating (113.4) and average finish (6.4). Tony Stewart won last year’s Martinsville Chase race.
So if the driver of the Miller Lite Dodge wants to keep pace, he will need to step up his effort this weekend at the Tums Fast Relief 500. In fact, Keselowski has no wins at the remaining tracks on the schedule, and the worlds largest paper clip would be a good place to change that stat. After all, if you want to be the Champ, you have to win at most of the venues on the circuit. If you have a weakness, the schedule will eventually find it.
With two wins at Bristol, and one at Dover on his resume, wining at the short tracks doesn’t seem to be the problem. It’s just Martinsville that has eluded the youngster from Rochester Hills, Michigan.
Although Kansas was a real dust up last Sunday, it did nothing to shake up the points standings. With a mid race accident that sent five time Cup Champion Jimmie Johnson into the outside wall, his Lowes Chevrolet team got him fixed up enough to remain a factor. Johnson finished 9th, only one position behind Keselowski, and maintained his 7 point margin.
Clint Bowyer finished 6th and gained a few points on third place Denny Hamlin who ended up 13th. With a small points shift, there were no exchange of positions. By virtue of his win, Matt Kenseth picked up two spots, Tony Stewart and Martin Truex Jr. both picked up a position. The big loser at the Hollywood Casino 400, was Greg Biffle. Biffle finished 26th on the afternoon, and dropped two positions to 11th.
If you are indeed a race fan, you need to buckle up in your Laz-y-Boy, and get ready for the last exciting race possibility of the season. In Martinsville spring race, the contenders Johnson, Bowyer and Jeff Gordon piled up on the next-to-final restart of a green-white-checker finish handing the victory to Ryan Newman. Bowyer finished 10th; Johnson 12thand Gordon, who led 329 laps, 14th. Hamlin was sixth and Keselowski, who led for the first time at Martinsville, finished ninth.
With two D-Ovals left on the 2012 schedule at Texas, and Phoenix, you know those races have the opportunity to be snoozers. They will however, probably decide the championship. Only in 2004, and again last year, did we get to Homestead with anything on the line. Jimmie Johnson, in his five Cup wins, has never had to do much there. If Denny Hamlin, and Brad Keselowski can get to Homestead with the lead, they might just stand a chance of beating Old 5 Time. With never having to win there, he never has.
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