The week prior to the Texas race,
Most chose to ignore his pleas, figuring there was no way the Chase's most ruthless driver would do anything but waltz into a historic and unprecedented fourth crown. Turns out the champ had a point, as a third-lap tangle with
The penultimate race will be held at Phoenix International Raceway, this weekend or PIR for short. It's a one-mile flat track tri-oval, so as you select your Fantasy line-ups this weekend, keep an eye on those drivers who excel at the other flat tracks on the Sprint Cup slate and, naturally, those drivers still in the hunt for the big trophy.
Jimmie Johnson: After such sheer dominance in the Chase the past three years, it's almost impossible to fathom that Johnson found himself in trouble last weekend. Luckily for JJ, though, we head to a track where he has had
By the Numbers: Johnson's average finish at PIR is 5.4 and in 12 attempts, his "lowest" ever finish is 15th (twice).
Mark Martin: The sentimental favorite received a huge shot in the arm last weekend with a fourth place finish at Texas. Headed back to the track where he broke a 97-race winless streak, Martin hopes that he can repeat his performance in the eighth race of the season and lock down a maximum points day. There's reason to suggest he might: Martin has 16 top-10 finishes in 25 races at PIR, not to mention a pair of wins and 10 top-five efforts. Whether or not his efforts will stretch the Championship fight into the final race remains to be seen, but after finishing Talladega on his roof, he can't have expected to still be in the hunt. To some extent, Martin is playing with house money.
By the Numbers: Martin has led 833 laps at Phoenix including 157 of 312 earlier in the year.
By the Numbers: Bizarrely, Hamlin has an identical average start and finish at PIR of 10.4
By the Numbers: Harvick has completed 4041 of the 4060 laps he's run at PIR.
By the Numbers: Burton has an average finish of 11.2 at PIR. The only track at which he has a lower finish is Las Vegas (9.8)
By the Numbers: Vickers has an average finish of 19.3 at PIR.