Is There Anything Separating Jimmie Johnson from His Third Straight Title?

Samuel SicaAnalyst IOctober 14, 2008

After the first five races in the Chase for the Championship, Jimmie Johnson once again finds himself at the top of the point standings.

The point standings after last weeks race at Lowe’s Motor Speedway are as following:

    1. Jimmie Johnson
    2. Jeff Burton -69
    3. Greg Biffle –86
    4. Carl Edwards –168
    5. Clint Bowyer –185
    6. Kevin Harvick –207
    7. Tony Stewart –228
    8. Jeff Gordon –245
    9. Kyle Busch –326
    10. Dale Earnhardt Jr. –354
    11. Matt Kenseth –360
    12. Denny Hamlin –380

Now, the way I see it is that only Johnson, Burton, Biffle, Edwards, and Bowyer still have a chance at the Championship. I really believe that it will come down to Burton and Biffle having a real shot at the title. I think that Edwards and Bowyer are too far back to make any real headway because they would need the top three to have a bad race and I don’t see that happening.

The Chase rolls into Martinsville this week where traditionally Jimmie Johnson has faired very well. In the last 11 races at Martinsville, either Jeff Gordon or Jimmie Johnson has combined to win eight of those.

Jeff Gordon happens to have the most career wins of any active drivers at Martinsville with 7. But Johnson has the best average finish of any driver at Martinsville with an average finish of 6.0. Gordon is second on that list with an average finish of 7.0.

I do believe that Jeff Gordon will be strong in the last five races in the Chase, but he is just too far behind to make up any ground on Johnson. Now if Johnson would have a problem or get involved in an accident, then Gordon and a lot of other would be right back in the thick of things.

I just don’t see that happening to Johnson this week though, considering he has four wins, 9 top five finishes, and 12 top ten finishes at Martinsville.

Jeff Burton and Greg Biffle, on the other hand, have somewhat struggled in the past at Martinsville. Burton has faired much better than Biffle by scoring one victory, 10 top fives, and 14 top 10 finishes at Martinsville. Biffle has just one top ten finish at the track with an average finish of 23.6.

Clearly Jimmie Johnson has the advantage this week, but you never know, misfortune could strike at any moment at Martinsville. I do believe that Johnson will be pretty hard to contend with for the Championship, but I think that Jeff Burton is a determined veteran who is up to the job.

Burton has the experience and know-how to finish well at all the remaining tracks left in the Chase and I believe that Jeff Burton is going to win his first career Championship overthrowing Johnson’s reign as champion.