Mark Martin did what he had to do, achieve a top 5 finish to remain a championship contender for the Sprint Cup trophy, but what good does a fourth place finish do when Jimmie Johnson rebounds from his troubles a week ago and wins the race. It gave Johnson fifteen more points to his lead putting him a comfy 108 points ahead of Martin. Our math might be off by a position or so, but essentially, Martin would have to win and lead the most laps with Johnson finishing in 27th or worse. Surely, it is possible to lose 108 points in a race given what happened in Texas, but is it likely?
We’ll see next week when the field fires up their engines at Homestead.
There’s not much else to report from Phoenix. Finishing 9th finished Jeff Gordon’s faint hopes at a championship. Dale Earnhardt Jr. can’t buy a break getting tangled up in a late race mishap. Surely, finishing second has to be a bit of a fine consolation for Jeff Burton and Richard Childress Racing given their rough campaign for 2009.
It was a bad day for Fords; however, A.J. Allmendinger, running for Richard Petty Racing, preparing for its merger with Yates, had the best Ford finish in 13th position. The best Ford finish and the best finish from that garage. Greg Biffle finished 14th and Carl Edwards 16th as the best Roush competitors.
For Dodge, all hopes ride on Penske for next year. Their hopes were rewarded by a strong showing from Kurt Busch in 6th but who was one of Johnson’s toughest rivals in this race while Same Hornish finished 17th. There have been no credible stories that the Dodge/Penske partnership will be dissolved for next year meaning Dodge would only have three cars in Sprint Cup.
Like him or hate him, Jimmie Johnson is making NASCAR history the likes of which only Richard Petty could lay claim to exceeding. His expected fourth consecutive championship would be a feat not even the King could comprehend. We’ll discuss the significance of Johnson’s achievement only after it happens.