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Johnson leads chase after Martinsville win

"We were on the outside and I mean we were sitting ducks on the outside," he continued. "I was just trying to get down. I felt like I got down in front of him but maybe I didn't, I don't know - I haven't seen the video."

Bowyer held on to finish in fifth place, while the incident saw Gordon lose sixth place to Brad Keselowski - who had done what he needed to in turns of damage limitation in the Chase.

"We probably had more like a tenth or eleventh-place car," was Keselowski's honest evaluation of the #2 at Martinsville. Despite coming back from 32nd place on the grid, he disagreed that such a successful display of damage limitation at his least-liked track in the Chase must feel almost as good as a win. "No, it just feels like you live another day," he said honestly. "It's like being in a war and surviving a battle. It's not necessarily a win, you're just happy to still be living."

Johnson's win puts him on top in the Sprint Cup standings, albeit by just 2pts over Keselowski. Given that there are just the three races to go before the end of the season, it's looking very much like a two-horse race between the pair now, with Clint Bowyer next in the standings but a hefty 26pts off the lead. Kasey Kahne is also just about in touch 3pts further back, but after that the rest of the Chase contenders are now effectively - if by no means mathematically - out of the running.

Of course, one disastrous multi-car wreck wiping out Johnson, Keselowski, Bowyer and Kahne early in one of the remaining races could yet turn this whole season upside down. But at this point, the smart money has to be that the the five-time champion Jimmie Johnson is favourite to make it an impressive six-pack three weeks hence.

"Anything can happen. We've done a very nice job over these seven races to put ourselves in the points lead," said Johnson. "But we could both wad it up next week and Clint Bowyer is your champion. You never know. You got to go race the race.

"We'll have a dog fight for these final three," he added.

Full race results and Sprint Cup Championship standings are available.




Related Pictures

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Juan Pablo Montoya, driver of the #42 Target Chevrolet, is involved in an incident as Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe`s Chevrolet, passes during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Tums Fast Relief 500 at Martinsville Speedway on October 28, 2012 in Ridgeway, Virginia. (Photo Credit: Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe`s Chevrolet, races to the checkered flag to win the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Tums Fast Relief 500 at Martinsville Speedway on October 28, 2012 in Ridgeway, Virginia. (Photo Credit: Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
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Martin Truex, Jr., driver of the #78 Furniture Row/Visser Precision Chevrolet SS, qualifies for third position Friday, March 27, 2015 for Sunday`s NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Martinsville Speedway in Ridgeway, Virginia. Truex, Jr. is third in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) standings. (Photo by Andrew Coppley/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe’s Chevrolet SS, qualifies for fifth position Friday, March 27, 2015 for Sunday`s NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Martinsville Speedway in Ridgeway, Virginia. Johnson is seventh in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) standings.(Photo by Alan Marler/HHP for Chevy Racing)
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Jeff Gordon, driver of the #24 Axalta Chevrolet SS, qualifies for fourth position Friday, March 27, 2015 for Sunday`s NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Martinsville Speedway in Ridgeway, Virginia. Gordon is 22nd in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) standings. (Photo by Rusty Jarrett/HHP for Chevy Racing)
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NASCAR Hall of Famer Bill Elliott (left) congratulates his son Chase Elliott, driver of the #25 NAPA AUTO PARTS Chevrolet, after qualifying for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series STP 500 at Martinsville Speedway on March 27, 2015 in Martinsville, Virginia. This will mark Chase Elliott`s first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series start.  (Photo Credit: Rainier Ehrhardt/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Martin Truex Jr., driver of the #78 Furniture Row/Visser Precision Chevrolet, stands in the garage area during practice for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series STP 500 at Martinsville Speedway on March 27, 2015 in Martinsville, Virginia.  (Photo Credit: Rainier Ehrhardt/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Brett Moffitt, driver of the #55 Aaron`s Dream Machine Toyota, stands in the garage area during practice for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series STP 500 at Martinsville Speedway on March 27, 2015 in Martinsville, Virginia. (Photo Credit: Daniel Shirey/Getty Images)
Chase Elliott, driver of the #25 NAPA AUTO PARTS Chevrolet, practices for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series STP 500 at Martinsville Speedway on March 27, 2015 in Martinsville, Virginia.  (Photo Credit: Daniel Shirey/Getty Images)
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Brad Keselowski, driver of the #2 Wurth Ford, celebrates in Victory Lane after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Auto Club 400 at Auto Club Speedway on March 22, 2015 in Fontana, California.  (Photo Credit: Jerry Markland/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Brad Keselowski, driver of the #2 Wurth Ford, celebrates in Victory Lane after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Auto Club 400 at Auto Club Speedway on March 22, 2015 in Fontana, California.  (Photo Credit: Jerry Markland/NASCAR via Getty Images)
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