Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Johnson best when it matters - again

   It really shouldn't come as a surprise that Jimmie Johnson was the best when it mattered most again this season. Over the course of the 10 Chase for the Sprint Cup races, Johnson, who won a NASCAR-record fifth consecutive championship, scored the most points of any driver - 1,572. And remember, he entered the Chase with a slight deficit to Denny Hamlin, who was the No. 1 seed based on wins at the time.

   Also no surprise is that the drivers who finished the season second and third in the series standings - Hamlin and Kevin Harvick - also did well in the Chase. Harvick scored the second-most points and Hamlin third.

   But there were some surprises. Four drivers not in the Chase - Mark Martin, Joey Logano, Jamie McMurray and Ryan Newman - ranked among the Top 10 in points scored over the final 10 races, with Martin the best among that group. He scored the fifth-most points in the final 10 races.

   Most points scored over the final ten races this season

   1. Jimmie Johnson 1572 points
   2. Kevin Harvick 1551
   3. Denny Hamlin 1523
   4. Carl Edwards 1393
   5. Mark Martin 1342
   6. Joey Logano 1307
   7. Matt Kenseth 1294
   8. Jamie McMurray 1275
   9. Greg Biffle 1237
   10. Ryan Newman 1223

   Note: For those who like to play the "what if" game. Had Clint Bowyer not received a 150-point penalty from NASCAR for his car failing inspection at the R&D Center following his win at New Hampshire, he would have ranked No. 7 with 1,305 points.