NASCAR: What To Expect from the Top Three Teams Over the Next Five Weeks

Denise CharlesContributor IIIOctober 18, 2010

NASCAR: What To Expect from the Top Three Teams Over the Next Five Weeks

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    CONCORD, NC - OCTOBER 15:  Jimmie Johnson drives the #48 Lowe's Chevrolet during practice for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Bank of America 500 at Charlotte Motor Speedway on October 15, 2010 in Concord, North Carolina.  (Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Image
    Sam Greenwood/Getty Images

    With five races left in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series and with No. 48 Jimmie Johnson leading the points standings, it’s likely to be a similar scene as the last four years. 

    Can Denny Hamlin or Kevin Harvick pass Johnson in the rankings?  Will Johnson add another championship under his belt and be one step closer in catching Richard Petty and the late Dale Earnhardt with seven cup wins? 

Sunday, October 24: Martinsville Speedway

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    CONCORD, NC - OCTOBER 14:  Denny Hamlin, driver of the #11 FedEx Ground Toyota, stands on pit road during qualifying for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Bank of America 500 at Charlotte Motor Speedway on October 14, 2010 in Concord, North Carolina.  (Photo b
    Jason Smith/Getty Images

    In 2009, the Lowe’s team finished second after leading the most laps.  If they can get in the groove of things this year, they can expect to revisit victory lane at Martinsville—a place Johnson isn’t unfamiliar with, as he won the 2008 and 2007 fall race there, too. 

    However, second ranked Denny Hamlin is also not a stranger to victory lane at Martinsville.  By destroying Johnson’s chances of a 3-peat at this track, Hamlin stole the win in 2009. 

    In fact, over the past four years, Hamlin or Kevin Harvick—whose ranked third in points--have never finished outside of the top 10. 

Sunday, October 31: Talladega Speedway

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    CONCORD, NC - OCTOBER 15:  Kevin Harvick drives the #29 Shell/Pennzoil Chevrolet during practice for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Bank of America 500 at Charlotte Motor Speedway on October 15, 2010 in Concord, North Carolina.  (Photo by Sam Greenwood/Gett
    Sam Greenwood/Getty Images

    Last year was the first time they raced at Talladega in late October/early November.  And the season change or weather didn’t seem to deter the Lowe’s team. 

    In 2009, they finished sixth; however, earlier this year they placed 31st after leading the most laps.

    For Hamlin, the last three out of four finishes at Talladega have been 22nd or worse.  The chances of him breaking his curse are unlikely. 

    On the contrary though, Kevin Harvick is just coming off a victory in Talladega from earlier this year. 

Sunday, November 7: Texas Motor Speedway

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    CONCORD, NC - OCTOBER 15:  Denny Hamlin drives the #11 FedEx Ground Toyota during practice for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Bank of America 500 at Charlotte Motor Speedway on October 15, 2010 in Concord, North Carolina.  (Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Imag
    Sam Greenwood/Getty Images

    In 2008 and 2009, Johnson struggled in Texas with a finish of 15th and 38th, respectively.  However, in April he finished second at Texas, making one heck of a comeback.   

    The last time Jimmie Johnson visited victory lane at Texas was in 2007—at the same time, it’s been his ONLY win in Texas.

    Last year, Denny Hamlin came in second at Texas and with him only being only 41 points behind the leader, the nerves begin to cut loose. 

    Harvick has had a love/hate relationship with Texas.  Out of his last seven finishes, he’s only managed to place in the top 10 four times. 

Sunday, November 14: Phoenix International Raceway

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    PHOENIX - APRIL 09:  Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe's Chevrolet, in his car during qualifying for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Subway Fresh Fit 600 at Phoenix International Raceway on April 9, 2010 in Phoenix, Arizona.  (Photo by Jonathan Ferrey/G
    Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images

    For the last three years, Johnson had won at the fall Phoenix race. 

    It’s not a guaranteed win with that history, but it is intimidating to know that someone has such a phenomenal track record at the location. 

Sunday, November 21: Homestead-Miami Speedway

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    FONTANA, CA - OCTOBER 09:  Kevin Harvick, driver of the #33 Jimmy John's Chevrolet, leads a group of cars during the NASCAR Nationwide Series CampingWorld.com 300 on October 9, 2010 in Fontana, California.  (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)
    Jeff Gross/Getty Images

    Two out of three of his last finishes here in the cup closer have managed to be in the top 10. 

    Hamlin went to victory lane here last year. Hamlin and Harvick have also finished in the top three two times in the last three years.

Prediction

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    CONCORD, NC - OCTOBER 16:  Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe's Chevrolet, pits during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Bank of America 500 at Charlotte Motor Speedway on October 16, 2010 in Concord, North Carolina.  (Photo by Jason Smith/Getty Images for
    Jason Smith/Getty Images

    With a total of 198 top 10s and 322 races under his belt, the odds are certainly in Johnson’s favor to win his fifth championship—let’s not count out the others in the chase just yet though.

    In NASCAR anything can happen and I’m sure we will see that in the next five weeks.

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