NASCAR Chase 2012: Drivers Who Helped Themselves in Cup Chase at Martinsville
You just had a feeling after Jimmie Johnson won the pole in qualifying for the Tums Fast Relief 500 at Martinsville Speedway that the five-time Sprint Cup champion was going to make his move on Sunday afternoon.
That's exactly what he did, as he took home the checkered flag, leading the race for 191 laps and, more importantly, jumping over points leader Brad Keselowski for first place in the Sprint Cup Standings.
But Johnson wasn't the only driver to help his chances as we head into the final three races of the season.
Let's take a look at who else put themselves in solid position for a shot at the Cup.
All standings in bold are as they pertain to the Sprint Cup, not the Tums 500.
Brad Keselowski: Second Place, 2,289 points, 2 Behind Leader
Brad Keselowski finished in sixth place at Martinsville, an excellent performance when you consider that he was starting way back in the pack in 32nd position.
The fact that he didn't lose more ground in the standings was remarkable, and incredibly important as Keselowski only has one Top Five finish (Phoenix) at the last three tracks they'll race before the Cup is decided.
Clint Bowyer: Third Place, 2.265 points, 26 behind leader
Clint Bowyer finished fifth at Martinsville, jumping over Denny Hamlin into third place in the standings.
With at least one Top Five finish at Fort Worth, Homestead and Phoenix—and six Top Five finishes in total—Bowyer is in excellent position to make his move for the lead at any of the remaining three races.
Kasey Kahne: Fourth Place, 2,262 points, 29 behind leader
With a third-place finish at Martinsville, Kasey Kahne moved past Denny Hamlin as well and may find himself in the best shape for a Cup run after Johnson.
Kahne has seven Top Five finishes at the tracks remaining, but he's got two wins in there as well, with Homestead being the only track on which he's not wound up in Victory Lane at least once.
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