Jimmie Johnson recently dominated the competition at Martinsville Speedway to win the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series auto race this past Sunday, October 28.
Johnson is a 5-time series champion and raced to his seventh career victory on what is known as the trickiest oval in NASCAR, moving Brad Keselowski out of the top spot by erasing a seven point lead. Johnson is now in first place with three events remaining.
Despite winning the race, Johnson admits that there is a lot left to do and he knows the title chase is far from being over.
"I'm ecstatic about the win today and ecstatic about the points lead, but this is no cake-walk," Johnson said after the 59th victory of his career and fourth this season. "These guys are bringing their best each and every week. The next two races will tell the tale. We could both wad it up next week and Clint Bowyer is your champion."
Johnson was able to move two points ahead of Keselowski, who was able to finish in sixth place, having his highest career showing at the track.
"He's our competition and we've got to beat him," Keselowski said. "We know that, but at some point you've got to do your own thing and just rely on what gets you to where you're at, and what's got us to where we're at is just solid finishes when we don't have a shot to win the race. And we didn't have a shot to win today and we got a solid finish, so I feel confident about that."
The series will now move on to Texas and Phoenix before the last race at Homestead-Miami. The drivers can both relax until the next race, but are aware of the possibility that they may not be in a good position to win the race at the end, which was made evident by Denny Hamlin.
Hamlin looked like he was close to finishing the race in a good position, but had an electrical problem that sent him back to 33rd place, which is out of contention.
Keselowski started in 32nd place but worked his way forward effectively and never was really a factor until he made some late moves to take the lead. He was able to hold the lead for only a brief amount of time before a caution flag was lifted when he and Dale Earnhardt Jr. decided to stay out.
When the race was started again with 19 laps left, Keselowski's chances were eliminated, as he decided it was a better bet to hang on for as long as he could to finish the race.
Jimmie Johnson led eight times for 193 laps and passed Keselowski on the 487th lap. Kyle Busch came in second place, followed by Kasey Kahne, Aric Almirola, Clint Bowyer, Keselowski, Jeff Gordon and Brian Vickers.
"I know this championship's going to come down to Homestead," Keselowski said. "You've just got to be in position to where you've got a shot at it and we're doing the things it's going to take."
This was Dale Earnhardt's first race back since he suffered a concussion in a crash that led to him taking some time off. After being evaluated by Dr. Jerry Petty, Charlotte neurosurgeon, Earnhardt earned his spot back on the Martinsville Superspeedway track. The NASCAR driver's injury opened up the discussion on how the sport can better deal with head injuries to protect their drivers from long-term health problems.