Brad Keselowski's Point Lead in Jeopardy at TUMS Fast Relief 500
Brad Keselowski and his risk-taking crew chief Paul Wolfe have played the Chase game well with smart calculating moves, but his time at the top of the points heap will likely end at the paper-clip track.
Keselowski has a lead of seven points over Jimmie Johnson. The driver of the No. 2 Penske Dodge qualified poorly for the TUMS Fast Relief 500 in 32nd place.
Johnson will start on the pole at Martinsville.
Racing is tight at the shortest track on the NASCAR schedule with the two dragstrip straightaways and sharp turns with 11 degrees of banking.
Keselowski has used up most of the options he had in his bag of tricks that got him to the Chase and all the way to the top of the standings.
There is a good chance the cunning driver may get lapped at Martinsville with his poor starting spot on the grid. He may also find his pit stall to be less than desirable as well.
Johnson and the 48 team are in championship form and they likely will hoist the Sprint Cup trophy at Homestead and celebrate an amazing sixth series title.
Their stellar performance was evident at Kansas last week when Johnson and company kept their taped-together Chevrolet in contention for a top 10 finish despite the damage sustained after a spin.
The driver of the Lowe's Chevrolet for Hendrick Motorsports just needs to come out of Martinsville with a win or top-five finish and the remaining three races should play into their plan to become champions yet again.
Keselowski is a tough competitor and can never be counted out. Wolfe will need to make daring pit calls with tires and fuel to get his driver in contention.
The 31 cars in front of "Bad Brad" may be problematic if the inevitable bumping and banging between competitors results in a wreck that involves the Blue Deuce.
Of course 43 race cars on a short track can be problematic to any one of the participants including the drivers who start on the front row, Johnson and Brian Vickers.
Time is running short and patience will be running even shorter with drivers going for the title, namely Denny Hamlin and Clint Bowyer in addition to Johnson and Keselowski.
Other Chase drivers will drive as though they have nothing to lose and drivers not in the Chase will aim to be spoilers.
Keselowski has shown confidence, determination and a cool demeanor this season.
His five wins, 12 Top Five and 20 Top 10 finishes are impressive during 2012. His average finish is 10.4.
Keselowski will collect a big check at the awards banquet in Las Vegas at season's end, but he may be there to celebrate Johnson's sixth NASCAR Sprint Cup title.
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