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Hollywood Casino 400 Review: Johnson A Contender

[1]Just last week, before the race at Dover International Speedway, critics doubted Jimmie Johnson’s chance to win his sixth championship in a row.  Two weeks later, Johnson, coming off of second and first place finishes, sits third in points.  This win moved Johnson up two positions in standings, with four points separating him from the leader.

Johnson is now eighth on the all-time wins list with this victory, tying Rusty Wallace’s 55 wins.  Chevrolet has now claimed the manufacturers championship for the season, their 35th championship overall.  Johnson led the race from lap 24 and dominated the field the entire race.  He had to beat his future teammate Kasey Kahne, who finished the race in second place.  Critics who doubted the No. 48 team are now retracing their statements and tucking their tail between their legs.

You can never count out five-time champion Jimmie Johnson.  Before the race at Kansas, the No. 48 team was in the midst of 21 race winless streak.  Many drivers go over 100 races without a win, yet the media was concerned with 21 for Johnson?  The battle for this championship gets more intense every week and you definitely can’t count out Johnson for this championship title.

Keselowski Stays Consistent

Brad Keselowski keeps up his consistent finishes after finishing second at Kansas Speedway.  He moved up to the fourth position in the standings, just 11 points behind the leader.  Keselowski has finished in the top-5 three out of the past four races.  Although he finished in 20th position last weekend at Dover, he overcame power steering issues to finish strong.

Like I’ve said before, Keselowski is one of the biggest contenders for this championship.   He never gives up and has consistent finishes every week.  He came into the Chase as the underdog and will leave it as the champion, or as the driver who gave the champion a run for his money.

Carl Edwards Takes Over Points Lead

Leaving Dover last week Carl Edwards was tied with Kevin Harvick for the points lead, in second position.  He is now leading the standings, one point ahead of Harvick.  Edwards salvaged a fifth place finish at Kansas after falling a lap down during the race.  In post-race interviews Edwards said that he felt like he won the race.  Managing to finish in the top-5 after overcoming such obstacles is a big accomplishment for the No. 99 team.

Dale Earnhardt Jr Just Wants to Win a Race

After the race at Kansas, Dale Earnhardt Jr is leaving with a different mind-set.  “I just want to win a race,” he said. “That’s a goal of mine right now, is to just go out there and win. Man, if we could do that, no matter what happened in the Chase I think we’d be real happy with our season”.

Earnhardt seemed to have a fast car throughout the race, but wasn’t happy with his tires.  He said during the race that the various sets of Goodyear tires were inconsistent, and he couldn’t figure out why.  Earnhardt finished the race in 14th position.  He gained one spot in points, moving to ninth position.

Gordon’s Chase Hopes Take A Big Hit

Although Gordon ran in the top-10 for most of the race, he was never happy with how his car was handling.  With 23 laps to go, Gordon noticed smoke coming from underneath the hood.  The team knew it was a matter of time before their day was over.  With two laps to go, the engine expired, leaving Gordon with a 34th place finish.  His finish dropped him down to 10th position in the points.

Being 47 points behind the leader, are Gordon’s championship hopes over?  With just six races left in the season, Gordon would need a miracle to win the championship.  However, if the drivers ahead of him in points were to finish poorly in the last few races and Gordon was to finish top-5 every week, he may still have a chance.  With the points battle being so close this season, he still has a small chance.

Chase for the Sprint Cup

As we head to Charlotte Motor Speedway for the fifth race in the Chase for the Sprint Cup, Carl Edwards is now your points leader.  Kevin Harvick lost the points lead, but only by one point, leaving him in second place.  Johnson gained two positions and is now in third place,  just four points behind Edwards.  Keselowski and Matt Kenseth both gained two positions, now sitting in fourth and fifth place, respectively.

Kurt Busch and Tony Stewart both dropped positions in standings and now are sixth and seventh place, respectively.  Kyle Busch remains in eighth position and is now 20 points behind the leader.  Earnhardt gained one position, moving him to ninth position with his teammate Gordon in 10th.  Newman and Hamlin’s chase hopes are no longer viable, sitting in 11th and 12th position, more than 50 points behind the leader.