Championship picture changes with Johnson’s win at Martinsville

Credit: Streeter Lecka/Getty Images
Martinsville once again belongs to Jimmie Johnson and the No. 48  team. With the win today Johnson secures the series points lead from Brad Keselowski. Keselowski, who started the day seven points ahead of "Five-Time," is now two points back with only three races remaining.

The lead change wasn't the only shake up in the points. Denny Hamlin was forced into the garage midway through the race after electrical issues caused the No. 11 Toyota to lose power multiple times over the course of a green-flag run. Hamlin’s misfortune, which also included  two pit road speeding penalties, allowed for Clint Bowyer to move up in the rankings. Kasey Kahne gained one point finishing third and joked saying that at this rate he might catch up to the leaders by next year.

The Michael Waltrip Racing Toyota duo of Brian Vickers and Bowyer had solid runs with Bowyer leading a race high 151 laps. After the race Bowyer said, “I thought we had a car capable of winning. As soon as it got cool, I got a little bit tight in, but we lost track position when they beat us out of the pits there and I never could regain it.” Bowyer is now third in the points and 26 behind Johnson, still in the title hunt.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. returned to the track for the first time since a concussion post-Talladega, maintaining a top 10 car for most of the afternoon, the driver and team look refreshed all weekend. Contact from Sam Hornish Jr. and Carl Edwards derailed the hopes of finishing strong. In a typical short track deal, Hornish touched Edwards who then touched Earnhardt Jr. That contact resulted in a 21st-place finish for the No. 88 team. For Jr Nation's loyal fans, they will take it, just happy to have their driver back behind the wheel.

Final Results:
  1. Johnson
  2. Ky. Busch
  3. Kahne
  4. Almirola
  5. Bowyer
  6. Keselowski
  7. Gordon
  8. Vickers
  9. Labonte
  10. Biffle
  11. Newman
  12. Menard
  13. Hornish Jr.
  14. Kenseth
  15. Ku. Busch
  16. Logano
  17. McMurray
  18. Edwards
  19. Cassill
  20. Montoya
  21. Earnhardt Jr.
  22. Burton
  23. Truex Jr.
  24. Ambrose
  25. Mears
  26. Ragan
  27. Stewart
  28. Allemendinger
  29. Schrader
  30. Gilliland
  31. Kvapil
  32. Harvick
  33. Hamlin
  34. Leicht
  35. Blaney
  36. Reutimann
  37. Speed
  38. Wise
  39. McDowell
  40. Stremme
  41. Nemechek
  42. Riggs
  43. Sorenson
Championship picture changes with Johnson’s win at Martinsville Championship picture changes with Johnson’s win at Martinsville Reviewed by Katy Lindamood on Sunday, October 28, 2012 Rating: 5