Race No. 6 of the Chase for the Sprint Cup is in the books. Here's how the 12 drivers stand after Jimmie Johnson's victory Sunday in the TUMS QuikPak 500 at Martinsville Speedway:
1. Jimmie Johnson (finished first at Martinsville): The field is hoping Johnson finds trouble somewhere. So how does he respond? By leading more laps than he ever has in a race before. It'll take two bad races for the field to catch him now, and that's not happening. Title No. 3 is all but locked up.
2. Greg Biffle (finished 12th, -149 points): Biffle had a solid run for him at Martinsville, but that's not good enough when you're chasing a guy who records top fives everywhere he goes. Biffle's good at Atlanta (next week's stop) and following Sunday's race said the Chase is not over.
3. Jeff Burton (finished 17th, -152 points): Once again Martinsville bites Burton. A run-in with Jeff Gordon on pit road didn't help. This was Burton's first Chase finish outside the top 10. For Burton to catch Johnson, it was going to take a string of top 10s. It will be tough to recover from this.
4. Carl Edwards (finished third, -198 points): Scored his best finish at Martinsville. But Edwards' Chase ended with the mechanical failure last week at Lowe's. Even four straight wins probably wouldn't be enough to catch Johnson now.
5. Clint Bowyer (finished ninth, -246 points): A respectable finish for Bowyer, who, like the rest of the field, is left to go through the motions.
6. Kevin Harvick (finished 7th, -256 points): Harvick's only hope was to lie in wait for Johnson to slip up. But that hasn't happened, and now Harvick is too far behind for even that strategy.
7. Jeff Gordon (finished fourth, -275 points): Early on it looked like Gordon had a shot at his first win of the season. But as the race wore on, Gordon labored around the fifth-place position. Gordon did wind up going to victory lane, but only to congratulate Johnson, again.
8. Tony Stewart (finished 26th, -338 points): Smoke's day, like a host of others, was bogged down with tire issues. But this time Goodyear isn't to blame. Either Stewart was working too hard on his brakes or his team missed the set up. Either way, it made for a miserable day for Stewart.
9. Dale Earnhardt Jr. (finished second, -379 points): Junior was best on the long runs, which is why his shot at victory ended when a caution came out late, turning it into a short sprint to the finish, and he wasn't going to catch Johnson on a short run.
10. Matt Kenseth (finished eighth, -408): Rallied to finish in the top 10, which is remarkable considering he had a torn-up race car most of the day.
11. Denny Hamlin (finished fifth, -420 points): Surprisingly, Hamlin wasn't a factor all day. Sure, he finished in the top five, but he didn't lead a single lap.
12. Kyle Busch (finished 29th, -445 points): The tale of two seasons continues as Busch once again is a non-factor. His average finish in the Chase so far is 25.5.
- Jimmie Johnson
- Martinsville Speedway
- Jeff Gordon