By Ken de la Bastide
For The Herald Bulletin
---- — With both Matt Kenseth and Jimmie Johnson surviving the two toughest tracks in the Sprint Cup Chase for the title, it appears the champion won’t be crowned until the final race of the year.
Kenseth and his Joe Gibbs Racing turned it up a notch at Martinsville Speedway last weekend and almost left with a victory. Jeff Gordon’s late race charge gave the former Indiana resident his first win of the year and kept him mathematically eligible for the title.
Kenseth and Johnson led the most laps at Martinsville with the Wisconsin driver finishing second, holding off Clint Bowyer on the final lap and Johnson came home in fifth.
Entering the race at Texas the two point leaders, Kenseth and Johnson are tied at the top of the leader board. Gordon, Harvick and Kyle Busch are 27 to 36 points back.
Johnson won the Texas race last November from the pole position and Busch won from the pole last April.
With the last two races won from the pole position it appears that qualifying will be at a premium on the 1.5-mile oval.
A bad day for either Kenseth or Johnson or both could allow Gordon, Harvick and Busch to gain ground on the two leaders. That is not likely to take place.
It should be an interesting three weeks until the 2013 champion is crowned.
In other racing news: For the fans that missed the triple header of 100-lap races last weekend at Anderson Speedway, you missed some excellent racing.
The drivers in the McGunegill Engine Performance Late Models, NASH-FM Thunder Cars and Front Wheel Drive Oval Division all put their skills on display.
There were only six caution flags in the Late Model feature, five in the Thunder Car race and four in the Front Wheel Drive action.
Mark Lambert passed Danny Trent on Lap 45 and went on to win by 2 seconds.
It was Lambert’s first career win at Anderson Speedway.
Curtis Chapman, the 2013 Thunder Car champion, recorded his ninth win of the season with nifty bump and run move on “Mr. Enduro” Johnny Magee on Lap 53. Just when it appeared Chapman was going to cruise to the victory the caution flag waved when Earl Adams II made contact with the Turn 2 wall on Lap 82.
Chapman was not to be denied the victory and pulled away from Magee and Trent Gossar.
Three drivers in the Thunder Car division all broke the existing track record set by Chapman on June 8 at 14.681 seconds. Chapman set the new mark at 14.459 seconds followed by Gossar at 14.511 seconds and Magee with a lap of 14.594 seconds.
Indianapolis driver Don Gallaher posted his first win at the speedway by using slower traffic to pass Nick Warner on Lap 41 and then weaving his way through traffic to win by .221 seconds.
The drivers set the bar pretty high for the final event of the season “Turkey Bash” on Nov. 30 when the Street Stock division drivers will be competing in a 100-lap race.