WDBJ7 Sports Reporter
7:26 PM EDT, October 26, 2012
The Chase for the Sprint Cup has just one short track race and that takes place this weekend in Martinsville. And if history is an indication, Sunday's Tums Fast Relief 500 will go a long way in determining this year's champion.
Of the eight prior Chase champs, four won the Martinsville Chase event, two finished second and no eventual champion finished worse than fifth.
The points race is certainly a tight one, with the top three drivers separated by just 20 points. And with four races left, Martinsville is a pivotal weekend for drivers like Jimmy Johnson and Denny Hamlin, who are not only right on the heels of points leader, Brad Keselowski, but are also two of the better drivers on this half-mile track.
"All four tracks remaining, we're one of the favorites to win and I feel like you have to win. You have to win during the chase to be the champion. It certainly can be won without but my mindset now is win, win, win,” Johnson said.
Of the top three, who's under the most pressure to run well on Sunday?
"This weekend I'd say it's Brad Keselowski and that's because this is not his best track,” Jeff Gordon said. “It's a track that he's up against two guys that are very, very good here so it puts a little bit more pressure on him. He is leading the points and has been doing a great job and I think this will be a real test for Brad."
With just four races to go, this is no time to play it safe for any of the Chase contenders.
“I would rather side on the aggressive side because I know my competition is. I know that the 2 car is certainly racing that way and Denny is as well so you gotta stay aggressive. You can't protect and you can't conserve at this stage. It's just all about living on that ragged edge,” Johnson said.
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