Congratulations to Denny Hamlin for his win at Martinsville. Winning in his home state of Virginia must have been about as fun as it gets for not only Hamlin, but his entire family as well.
Jimmie Johnson, with a second place finish at Martinsville widened his points lead over second place Mark Martin to 118 points. Jeff Gordon remains in third place, 150 points behind Johnson.
Tony Stewart, in fourth place, is 192 points out, and Juan Pablo Montoya is an even 200 points out of first place.
As close as the Chase is supposed to keep the competition, it would appear that Jimmie Johnson is running away with the points with four races to go in the season.
Let's examine how the points would stack up under the old points system. Tony Stewart would still be in first place, with an 80 point lead over second place Jimmie Johnson. It would seem that Johnson's late season surge, which has worked so well in the Chase, would still see him playing catch up under the old points rules.
Under the old points system, Jeff Gordon would still find himself in third place, though only 117 points out of first place, rather than the 150 point deficit he currently finds himself in. In other words, Gordon would still be a long shot to win his 5th championship with only 4 races to go, but he'd have a better chance than he does now.
Fourth and fifth places would be held by Mark Martin and Denny Hamlin, but they would have virtually no chance whatsoever of a championship at this point, being both well over 400 points out of first place.
Tony Stewart has accepted that the Chase is the law of the land, but one has to wonder how he feels now, knowing that he would have an advantage at this point in the season, were NASCAR still using the old points system.
As for Jimmie Johnson, he's doing exactly what he needs to do to assure himself of his fourth consecutive championship. Late season charges do make a huge difference under the Chase system.