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Another title for Hendrick — but for who?

Don't blame team owner Rick Hendrick if he's already dusting off a place in the trophy case for this year's NASCAR Sprint Cup championship hardware.

What Hendrick doesn't know, however, is which man's name will appear on the trophy — the guy who's won the last three titles, or the AARP-eligible driver who has discovered the fountain of youth in Hendrick's #5 Chevrolet.

Will it be a record fourth straight title for Jimmie Johnson, or a first for Mark Martin, who has finished second in the final standings four times?

The one-two finish by Johnson and Martin in Sunday's AAA 400 at Dover International Speedway was a slap in the face to the other ten drivers in the Chase for the Sprint Cup field, drivers who thought they might — just might — have a chance to break Hendrick's stranglehold on the championship.

Today, that notion is more pipe dream than possibility.

"It's just two races," cautioned Martin, who won the first Chase race at New Hampshire and leads Johnson by ten points. "And I think a first and the second is a pretty good way to come out of the gate. But we've got eight more to go, and all kinds of things can happen.

"You know, I still say that there's twelve (drivers) in it, and twelve can win. It might be a challenge for a couple of the teams that are toward the back right now. But you just don't have any concept, I guess, of how much racing eight races is. It's a lot of racing. A lot of things can happen."

The reality is that a lot of things that normally don't happen to Hendrick cars would have to happen in the final eight races to knock both Martin and Johnson out of title contention. History says that won't be the case.

Ten points separate Martin and Johnson. Juan Pablo Montoya, third in the standings, is 65 points behind Martin, and fourth-place Kurt Busch trails the Chase leader by 75 points. The remaining eight drivers face deficits that range from 106 points (Tony Stewart) to 189 (Kasey Kahne).

It's easy to make a case for Johnson's record fourth straight championship. The series next moves to Kansas Speedway, where Johnson won last year's Chase race. After that, it's Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, Calif., one of the No. 48 team's strongest tracks. Johnson won the Labor Day weekend race there in 2007 and 2008, and now the two-mile speedway has replaced Atlanta in the final 10 races.




Related Pictures

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Jimmie Johnson, driver of the No. 48 Lowe`s Chevrolet, speaks with Mark Martin, driver of the No. 5 Kellogg`s/CARQUEST Chevrolet during practice for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Sylvania 300 at the New Hampshire Motor Speedway on Friday in Loudon, N.H. (Photo Credit: Jason Smith/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Dale Earnhardt, Jr., driver of the #88 Diet Mountain Dew Chevrolet SS qualified for eleventh position September 19, 2014 for Sunday`s Chase Challenger 16 NASCAR Sprint Cup race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon, New Hampshire. Earnhardt, Jr. is in the Chase which continues with the Challenger 16 for this and next week`s race. (Photo by Alan Marler/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe’s Chevrolet SS qualified for sixth position September 19, 2014 for Sunday`s Chase Challenger 16 NASCAR Sprint Cup race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon, New Hampshire. Johnson is in the Chase which continues with the Challenger 16 for this and next week`s race. (Photo by Christa L Thomas/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser Designate A Driver Chevrolet SS qualified for third position September 19, 2014 for Sunday`s Chase Challenger 16 NASCAR Sprint Cup race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon, New Hampshire. Harvick is in the Chase which continues with the Challenger 16 for this and next week`s race. (Photo by Christa L Thomas/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Jamie McMurray, driver of the #1 Belkin/Wemo Chevrolet SS qualified for second position September 19, 2014 for Sunday`s Chase Challenger 16 NASCAR Sprint Cup race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon, New Hampshire. (Photo by Garry Eller/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Carl Edwards, driver of the #99 Aflac Ford, practices for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Sylvania 300 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on September 19, 2014 in Loudon, New Hampshire. (Photo Credit: Chris Trotman/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Brad Keselowski, driver of the #2 Miller Lite Ford, celebrates setting the pole position during qualifying for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Sylvania 300 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on September 19, 2014 in Loudon, New Hampshire. (Photo Credit: Robert Laberge/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Kyle Larson, driver of the #42 Target Chevrolet, speaks at a press conference following practice for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Sylvania 300 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on September 19, 2014 in Loudon, New Hampshire. (Photo Credit: Sarah Glenn/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 M&M`s Toyota, smiles at Clint Bowyer, driver of the #15 5-hour Energy Toyota, during qualifying for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Sylvania 300 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on September 19, 2014 in Loudon, New Hampshire.  (Photo Credit: Jared Wickerham/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Brad Keselowski, driver of the #2 Miller Lite Ford, practices for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Sylvania 300 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on September 19, 2014 in Loudon, New Hampshire. (Photo Credit: Chris Trotman/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser Designate a Driver Chevrolet, practices for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Sylvania 300 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on September 19, 2014 in Loudon, New Hampshire. (Photo Credit: Jeff Zelevansky/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Brian Vickers, driver of the #55 Aaron`s Dream Machine Toyota, stands in the garage area during practice for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Sylvania 300 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on September 19, 2014 in Loudon, New Hampshire. (Photo Credit: Will Schneekloth/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Dale Earnhardt Jr., driver of the #88 Diet Mountain Dew Chevrolet, prepares for practice for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Sylvania 300 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on September 19, 2014 in Loudon, New Hampshire. (Photo Credit: Jared Wickerham/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Marcos Ambrose in the Richard Petty Motorsport garage at Sonoma Raceway on June 20, 2014 (Photo Credit: Jonathan Ferrey/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Brad Keselowski, driver of the #2 Miller Lite Ford, leads the field after a restart during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series MyAFibStory.com 400 at Chicagoland Speedway on September 14, 2014 in Joliet, Illinois. (Photo Credit: Nick Laham/Getty Images)
Brad Keselowski, driver of the #2 Miller Lite Ford, celebrates with a burnout after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series MyAFibStory.com 400 at Chicagoland Speedway on September 14, 2014 in Joliet, Illinois. (Photo Credit: Jerry Markland/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Brad Keselowski, driver of the #2 Miller Lite Ford, places his name in the top twelve on The Chase Grid after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series MyAFibStory.com 400 at Chicagoland Speedway on September 14, 2014 in Joliet, Illinois. (Photo Credit: Sean Gardner/Getty Images)
Brad Keselowski, driver of the #2 Miller Lite Ford, takes the chequered flag to win the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series MyAFibStory.com 400 at Chicagoland Speedway on September 14, 2014 in Joliet, Illinois.  (Photo Credit: Jeff Zelevansky/NASCAR via Getty Images)

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phil - Unregistered

October 03, 2009 1:41 PM

If Johnson wins again then the cup race is fixed as no ones car can run that perfect only during the chase part of the season. What do they put in his car that nascar overlooks?



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