Denny Hamlin backed up his statement that he would win in Martinsville, but his offense may not be strong enough against Jimmie Johnson and Kevin Harvick going into the final four of the Chase.
Heading to Talladega, Hamlin has reason to worry with Harvick having shown good performance there.
Harvick’s Superspeedway stats show four wins, 13 top-five finishes and 23 top-10’s with a 14.7 average. One of those wins and eight top-10’s were at Talladega.
Denny Hamlin has never won on a Superspeedway and has six top-10 finishes for an average of 20.4. At Talladega, his average finish is slightly better at 19.3.
Jimmie Johnson has five Superspeedway wins, 14 top-five finishes and 22 top-10 finishes with an average of 17.9. He has one win at Talladega and an average finish there of 17.8.
Johnson has shown he is a strong finisher on Superspeedways just as he is at most tracks.
Harvick certainly benefited at Martinsville with the addition of Clint Bowyers team to back him up. Richard Childress Racing will throw everything they can into the battle against Hamlin and Johnson in the NASCAR Chase.
After Martinsville, Johnson said, “So much can happen at Talladega.” He added, “After Talladega we will race like hell.”
There lies the problem for Hamlin and Harvick. It will be game on with Johnson after survival at Talladega.
Hamlin’s average finishes at intermediate tracks is 13.5 with nine wins and 62 top-10 finishes.
Harvick has seven wins, 88 top-10 finishes and an average of 15.7 on intermediate tracks.
Johnson is superb on intermediate tracks with 37 wins, 137 top-10 finishes and an average of 9.7.
Talladega is the last wild card in the Chase deck. Certainly some bizarre activities at the Superspeedway race on Halloween could topple Johnson, Hamlin or Harvick’s standing in the points.
Harvick will more than likely finish well at the Alabama track if he stays out of trouble, but anyone can win at the track that can be such a game changer.
So as the NASCAR Sprint Cup series heads to the high banks of Talladega, the top three drivers in Chase have reason for concern. Once “Dega” is done, it looks to be Johnson’s championship title to lose if he is still first or second in the point standings.
The remaining three tracks play right into the Jimmie Johnson/Chad Knaus game plan. For Denny Hamlin, his offensive stance probably won’t get him a title this year, but it won’t be for lack of giving it his all.