Jimmie Johnson holds a slim four point lead over the charging Matt Kenseth in the Sprint Cup Chase standings heading into Sunday’s half-mile dash around Martinsville, Va.
Johnson starts just behind pole winner Denny Hamlin in the No. 2 slot, followed by fellow Joe Gibbs Racing teammates Kyle Busch and Kenseth, and Clint Bowyer.
It was the third career pole for Hamlin at Martinsville, and his fourth of the year. Missing several races due to injury earlier this season put Hamlin way back in the Chase pack, but that won’t stop him from playing spoiler to anyone other than his teammates.
Five-time champion Johnson is firmly in line to snag his sixth title considering his recent history at Martinsvill. Johnson has won the last two NASCAR races in Martinsville, leading in 539 laps.
However Kenseth has proved a worthy opponent of Johnson, besting him in victories with seven this year. Kenseth has also finished as high as fourth in the last six races at Martinsville.
Busch and Kevin Harvick are both 26 points back from the Chase lead, with Jeff Gordon, Dale Earnhardt Jr., and Greg Biffle still within striking distance.
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12.Dale Earnhardt Jr.
13.Juan Pablo Montoya
15.Martin Truex Jr.
20.Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
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