Although the anticipation had been building after a week off, Sunday’s race at Martinsville Speedway was surprisingly…tame.
With no revenge taking place or no “heated” battles in the wake of the Tony Stewart vs. Joey Logano vs. Denny Hamlin saga, the race was for the most part quiet and dominated by a tenacious Jimmie Johnson.
Overall, the race was only controlled by three drivers over the 500- lap race. Yes, you heard right, three drivers. Although Kyle Busch and Matt Kenseth had a look at the front for a stint, Johnson took complete control for 346 laps, setting a personal best laps led record. Sunday also marked Johnson’s eighth victory at that track.
Leading the final 138 laps and after taking home the pole on Friday, Johnson continued his reign over the weekend and was never lower than fourth in the running order all afternoon. Looking settled, not only did Johnson regain the points lead after his victory, but also catapulted himself into the Martinsville history books with the most wins by an active driver there.
Besides Busch’s 56 and Kenseth’s 96 laps led, Travis Kvapil and Marcos Ambrose were the only other drivers to lead a lap, with one each.
Also leaving a mark on the track, Sunday’s win marked the 20th at Martinsville for Hendrick Motorsports as a whole, giving the team the lead in wins there.
After Sunday, it looks as if Johnson could be bracing for yet another run at this year’s championship. But, the other question is, when has he not been in contention? Looking stable and confident in his team and behind crew chief Chad Knaus, Johnson certainly has the tools and the leadership to get the job done again.
Consistency and steady performance seems to be the name of the game once again for the No. 48 team and with his only less than stellar outing coming at Bristol, Johnson looks poised to be the man to beat so far as the potential top seed in the Chase. Although there is plenty of racing left before it gets down to that point, don’t be surprised to see that Lowe’s Chevrolet take home a few more victories and solidify a top spot.
After a string of solid runs with two wins, landing the top spot in the points four times already and a personal best “laps led” performance this weekend, could “Mr. Five-Time” become “Mr. Six” this year?
My guess, he is headed there.
About the Author
Written by Ashley Gulick
Sports Journalism is my passion! I keep up with the latest news on pro/college football, NASCAR and baseball....and just about everthing else. I grew up in Talladega, Ala., but moved to Georgia when I was 15. From a young age, I always knew that I wanted to be involved with sports somehow. Once I got into college and completed my degree in Communications, I knew that I had a passion for sports journalism. I have covered sports for the Kennesaw Sentinel (KSU's student paper), Marietta Daily Journal and Douglas County Sentinel.