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Jimmie Johnson enters Martinsville as the points leader.
Jimmie Johnson Takes Over Points Lead
Jimmie Johnson led the most laps at Talladega and ended the day with a 13th-place finish. His result was seven places higher than Matt Kenseth, which gives Johnson the lead in the championship standings for the first time this postseason.
Entering the seventh race of the 10-week playoff, Johnson holds just a four-point lead over Kenseth, with Kyle Busch, Kevin Harvick and Jeff Gordon all still within reach of the two leaders.
Johnson's charge to the top of the point standings marks the first time in this year's playoffs that Kenseth has entered a race without the championship lead. For Kenseth and the rest of the title contenders, this may be the worst possible race to see Johnson enter with a lead. He is an eight-time winner at Martinsville and has won the last two times the series has visited the famed track.
Jamie McMurray Makes it Two in a Row for Non-Chasers
One week after Brad Keselowski was victorious in Charlotte, Jamie McMurray scored the win in Talladega, making it two straight victories by drivers not eligible to win the series championship. With McMurray's win, 2013 becomes the fifth year in the Chase era in which non-Chase drivers won at least two playoff events.
McMurray's Talladega win lacked the normal last-lap excitement that has become customary at the 2.66-mile superspeedway. After taking the lead with 14 laps remaining, McMurray held point until the checkered flag waved.
As the field took the white flag it appeared that Dale Earnhardt Jr., running second at the time, was poised to make a move and steal the win. When Austin Dillon's car got turned around after slight contact with Ricky Stenhouse Jr., NASCAR waved the caution flag thus ending the race and eliminating any potential drama.
Should a non-Chase driver win in Martinsville, it would mark the first time in series history that drivers not competing for the championship were victorious in three consecutive postseason races.