NASCAR Power Rankings: Martinsville

Jeffrey BoswellAnalyst IOctober 29, 2009

MARTINSVILLE, VA - OCTOBER 25:  Denny Hamlin, driver of the #11 FedEx Freight Toyota, leads Kevin Harvick, driver of the #29 Shell/Pennzoil Chevrolet, during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series TUMS Fast Relief 500 at Martinsville Speedway on October 25, 2009 in Martinsville, Virginia.  (Photo by John Harrelson/Getty Images)
John Harrelson/Getty Images

Note: The quotes in this article are fictional.

1. Jimmie Johnson

Johnson finished second to Denny Hamlin in the Tums QuikPak 500, as Johnson's quest for the Martinsville sweep was foiled by a determined Hamlin. Johnson didn't win the grandfather clock, but he increased his points lead over his closest pursuer from 90 to 118.

"After our duel in the spring," Johnson said, "many people wondered how I'd race Hamlin should we find ourselves in the same positions. Would I bump him out of the way like I did in March? Well, I proved that I can race fairly, as well. So my actions at Martinsville last Sunday compared to my actions there in March could be described as 'clean' and 'jerk.'"

"Now, should I eventually win the Cup, this may be the most satisfying accomplishment of my career. Why, because I'll have defeated a field including Jeff Gordon, Tony Stewart, Kurt Busch, all former Cup champions, as well as Mark Martin, the greatest driver never to have won a Cup. To me, it's a true 'Legends of the Fall .'"


2. Juan Montoya

Montoya scored his fifth Top-Five finish in six Chase races with a third at Martinsville, leading 37 of 501 laps. He moved up one spot to fifth in the Sprint Cup point standings, and trails Jimmie Johnson by 200.

"A lot of people though I'd be upset after a certain ABC college football announcer made an inappropriate comment on the air concerning me," Montoya said. "But hey, I love a 'Griese' taco just as much as the next stereotyped Hispanic."


3. Jeff Gordon

Gordon finished fifth at Martinsville, his day highlighted by a spirited battle with Juan Montoya early in the race in which the two made contact often. Gordon and Montoya criticized each other's driving, but later spoke personally and made amends.

"It was regrettable that Bob Griese made the 'taco' comment in regards to Montoya," Gordon said. "No driver should have to be the subject of that type of stereotypical put-down. That's why I felt awful after Montoya hit me the first time and I said to my crew, 'That's one 'X' against him; 'Dos Equis' more, and that's strike three."


4. Mark Martin

Martin came home eighth at Martinsville, a solid finish, yet one that caused him to lose even more ground to Jimmie Johnson, who finished second. Martin trails Johnson by 118 points with four races remaining.

"I've got an average finish of 6.5 in Chase races," Martin said, "but I still find myself trailing Jimmie Johnson. I may be over the 'hill,' yet I still can't seem to get over the 'hump.'"


5. Denny Hamlin

Hamlin led the final 138 laps at Martinsville, and held off Jimmie Johnson on three late restarts to win the Tums QuikPak 500. Hamlin avenged a loss to Johnson in Martinsville's spring race, when Johnson bullied Hamlin out of the lead with 15 laps to go.

"Now I'm the holder of the coveted grandfather clock," Hamlin said. "It still means a lot to me, despite the fact that I'm 352 out of first and have virtually no chance at winning the Cup. I guess that's why the clock keeps striking midnight."


6. Tony Stewart

Stewart finished ninth at Martinsville, his 22nd Top-10 of the year, for a solid result that could have been better, had some breaks gone his way. Stewart stayed out on a late caution while others took fresh tires, allowing them to overtake the No. 14 Old Spice Chevy in the closing laps. Stewart remained fourth in the point standings, and is 192 out of first.

"Burger King's 'The Truth About Tony' proved that I do, in fact, love a Whopper," Stewart said. "Ask me again at Talladega and I'll say the same — I love a whopper, or, more specifically, the 'Big One,' preferably one that involves Jimmie Johnson."

"We know fans wish for huge crashes all the time. Now drivers are hoping for the same."


7. Kurt Busch

Busch qualified 37th and finished 17th at Martinsville, handicapped by a poor pit stall location and an ill-handling car. He fell one spot in the point standings to sixth, and trails Jimmie Johnson by 240.

"With four races remaining," Busch said, "I'm not sure anyone can catch Jimmie Johnson even if he's wrecked at Talladega. Honestly, I think the No. 48 Lowe's team already has the champagne on ice. With that being the case, I'm sure Jimmie will enjoy the champagne, while me and 10 other drivers will have to settle for a coffee drink known as 'Too Little, Too Latté.'"


8. Ryan Newman

Newman won the pole at Martinsville and led 23 laps on his way to a seventh-place finish. He improved one place to seventh in the point standings, and trails Jimmie Johnson by 312.

"How do I know the Chase is practically over?" Newman asked. "Here's why: the only feud we're discussing is not one involving Jimmie Johnson. It's the Juan Montoya/Bob Griese feud. I think it was wise for Griese to apologize; I think it would be even wiser if Taco Bell started an ad campaign featuring Montoya and Griese debating the merits of tacos."


9. Carl Edwards

Edwards was running 12th on the final lap at Martinsville, but a broken driveshaft sent him into the wall and back through the field for a 20th-place finish. Edwards is 10th in the points, 413 out of first.

"This has been a season I'd rather not remember," Edwards said. "Thanks to a condition known as selective amnesia, I've already forgotten about most of it. The rest? I'm counting on a freak Frisbee accident to cause a head injury which will hopefully erase the rest of my memory."


10. Greg Biffle

Biffle posted a disappointing 25th in the Tums QuikPak 500, his aspirations compromised by two rained out qualifying sessions that left the setup of the No. 16 3M Ford mostly guesswork. Biffle fell one spot to eighth in the point standings, and trails Jimmie Johnson by 350.

"Lack of practice time certainly limited our preparation," Biffle said. "After that, we just had no success getting up to speed. Afterwards, however, I had no trouble getting 'down' to speed. That is, 'getting down' to Speed TV studios in Charlotte."