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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)
Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 M&M`s Crispy Toyota, leads Kurt Busch, driver of the #41 Haas Automation Chevrolet, at the end of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Toyota/Save Mart 350 at Sonoma Raceway on June 28, 2015 in Sonoma, California. (Photo Credit: Robert Laberge/Getty Images)
Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 M&M`s Crispy Toyota, celebrates with a burnout after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Toyota/Save Mart 350 at Sonoma Raceway on June 28, 2015 in Sonoma, California. (Photo Credit: Jonathan Moore/Getty Images)
Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 M&M`s Crispy Toyota, celebrates after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Toyota/Save Mart 350 at Sonoma Raceway on June 28, 2015 in Sonoma, California. (Photo Credit: Rainier Ehrhardt/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 M&M`s Crispy Toyota, crosses the finish line to win the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Toyota/Save Mart 350 at Sonoma Raceway on June 28, 2015 in Sonoma, California. (Photo Credit: Jonathan Moore/Getty Images)
Martin Truex Jr., driver of the #78 Furniture Row/Visser Precision Chevrolet, leads a pack of cars during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Toyota/Save Mart 350 at Sonoma Raceway on June 28, 2015 in Sonoma, California.  (Photo Credit: Jerry Markland/Getty Images for NASCAR)
AJ Allmendinger, driver of the #47 Kingsford Charcoal Chevrolet, leads the field to the green flag at the start of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Toyota/Save Mart 350 at Sonoma Raceway on June 28, 2015 in Sonoma, California.  (Photo Credit: Jerry Markland/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Fans cheer as cars race during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Toyota/Save Mart 350 at Sonoma Raceway on June 28, 2015 in Sonoma, California. (Photo Credit: Robert Laberge/Getty Images)
Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe`s Pro Services Chevrolet, leads Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 M&M`s Crispy Toyota, during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Toyota/Save Mart 350 at Sonoma Raceway on June 28, 2015 in Sonoma, California. (Photo Credit: Robert Laberge/Getty Images)
Clint Bowyer, driver of the #15 5-Hour Energy Toyota, pits during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Toyota/Save Mart 350 at Sonoma Raceway on June 28, 2015 in Sonoma, California. (Photo Credit: Jerry Markland/Getty Images)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Folds of Honor/Outback Steakhouse/Budweiser Chevrolet SS, finishes in fourth place, Sunday June 28, 2015, in the NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Sonoma Raceway in Sonoma, California.  (Photo by Rusty Jarrett/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Folds of Honor/Outback Steakhouse/Budweiser Chevrolet SS, finishes in fourth place, Sunday June 28, 2015, in the NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Sonoma Raceway in Sonoma, California.  (Photo by Rusty Jarrett/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Kurt Busch, driver of the #41 Haas Automation Chevrolet SS, finishes in second place, Sunday June 28, 2015, in the NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Sonoma Raceway in Sonoma, California.  (Photo by Rusty Jarrett/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Kurt Busch, driver of the #41 Haas Automation Chevrolet SS, finishes in second place, Sunday June 28, 2015, in the NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Sonoma Raceway in Sonoma, California.  (Photo by Rusty Jarrett/HHP for Chevy Racing)

Kurt Busch, driver of the #41 Haas Automation Chevrolet SS, finishes in second place, Sunday June 28, 2015, in the NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Sonoma Raceway in Sonoma, California.  (Photo by Rusty Jarrett/HHP for Chevy Racing)

Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Folds of Honor/Outback Steakhouse/Budweiser Chevrolet SS, finishes in fourth place, Sunday June 28, 2015, in the NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Sonoma Raceway in Sonoma, California.  (Photo by Rusty Jarrett/HHP for Chevy Racing)

Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Folds of Honor/Outback Steakhouse/Budweiser Chevrolet SS, finishes in fourth place, Sunday June 28, 2015, in the NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Sonoma Raceway in Sonoma, California.  (Photo by Rusty Jarrett/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Kyle Larson, driver of the #42 Chevrolet SS, qualifies for fourth position, Saturday June 27, 2015, in the NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Sonoma Raceway in Sonoma, California. (Photo by Harold Hinson/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Jeff Gordon, driver of the #24 Chevrolet SS, qualifies for fifth position, Saturday June 27, 2015, in the NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Sonoma Raceway in Sonoma, California. (Photo by Harold Hinson/HHP for Chevy Racing)
A.J. Allmendinger, driver of the #47 Chevrolet SS, captures the pole position, Saturday June 27, 2015, in the NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Sonoma Raceway in Sonoma, California.  It is Allmendinger`s first career pole.  Allmendinger is 22nd in the standings. (Photo by Rusty Jarrett/HHP for Chevy Racing)
A.J. Allmendinger, driver of the #47 Chevrolet SS, captures the pole position, Saturday June 27, 2015, in the NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Sonoma Raceway in Sonoma, California.  It is Allmendinger`s first career pole.  Allmendinger is 22nd in the standings. (Photo by Rusty Jarrett/HHP for Chevy Racing)

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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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