NASCAR Sprint Cup Championship New Leader: 48
It’s not surprising that Jimmie Johnson is leading the standings with two races left in the 2013 season. He is a five-time champion after all. Johnson also led the standings last year with two races left, but left the door open for Brad Keselowski to grab the title.
Concession is not necessary. Matt Kenseth is capable and likely to come back with a strong effort at Phoenix on Sunday. Two weeks ago at Martinsville it looked likely that the Lowe’s bunch were ready to put the title in the hip pocket. Kenseth rallied to tie then and could very well do so again at Phoenix.
History at Phoenix for the top two drivers shows a very similar set of statistics to that of Martinsville. Jimmie has the most wins (4) of any active driver and 16 top ten finishes in 20 starts. Kenseth did capture a win at Phoenix back in 2002 and a seventh place earlier this year. Over the breadth of his career, Kenseth has not been nearly as consistent.
That cruise at Texas last week could be the harbinger of things to come in the last race of the season. Testing proved to be the difference maker for Johnson as he paced the field for 255 laps while no one else logged more than 38 laps out front. Johnson tested at Homestead Miami Speedway. If he learned half as much as he did at the Texas test, Johnson will be hard to beat.
There is no way to top the riveting drama of Tony Stewart versus Carl Edwards from two years ago. Nonetheless, anything can happen on the way to Johnson’s 6th or Kenseth’s 2nd title.