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article imageNASCAR: Lucky 13 puts Johnson in 'Chase' lead

By John Duarte     Oct 21, 2013 in Sports
Talladega - Finishing 13th at the Camping World RV Sales 500 on Sunday turned out to be lucky for Jimmie Johnson, who took over the points lead with only four races left in this year's “Chase for the Sprint Cup.”
The five-time Sprint Cup champion may not have finished where he would have liked, but he finished well enough to vault over Matt Kenseth and into the lead of the Chase with only four races left on 2013's Sprint Cup schedule.
“Thirteenth isn't the best finish, but with what we are trying to do and win a championship, we beat the competition today... that's good,” Johnson said.
Kenseth, who had dominated the first part of the Camping World RV Sales 500, sounded surprised with the afternoon's turn of events. Kenseth finished 20th after leading for 32 laps during the early stages of the race.
“Typically, handling is a non-issue here,” he said. “We finally got it fixed that last run, but we only had 20 laps to get back up there. I really needed to be up there, like we were early and feeling I was controlling the race more.”
Race winner Jamie McMurray, who is the second non-Chase driver to win a Sprint Cup race in as many weeks, said that finishing first in Sunday's race was about momentum as much as anything else. McMurray, who snapped a streak dating back to 2010 of 108 starts without a win, looked ahead to next week's race at Martinsville Speedway, in Virginia.
“This is a great place to be able to win at to take not only my confidence but everybody else within our group to that track where I feel we'll run really well at,” he said. “It's so cool to see their faces in Victory Lane and know that when we go to Martinsville, you have confidence, everybody does. I love getting to go there.”
The Camping World RV Sales 500 had run trouble free until a wreck during the final lap brought the field home under caution-flag conditions. Dale Earnhardt, Jr. finished second at Talladega and Ricky Stenhouse was third.
The NASCAR season is down to four races and, with 34 points separating the top five contenders, the Chase for the Sprint Cup battle looks to be going down to the wire. Johnson and Kenseth are within four points of each other and, behind them, Kyle Busch and Kevin Harvick are tied for third and only 26 points off the lead. Jeff Gordon sits in fifth place, 34 points behind the leader.
Next up is the Goody's Headache Relief Shot 500, on Oct. 27 at Martinsville Speedway, where Johnson has won eight times in 23 races to lead all active drivers.
“Excited to go racing,” Johnson said.
The 2013 Sprint Cup season closes on Nov. 17 in Homestead, Florida.
This week, NASCAR released the 2014 Sprint Cup schedule. The season will consist of 36 points events beginning with The Great American Race, the Daytona 500, on Feb. 23. As has been the case the last four years, the Chase for the Sprint Cup begins at Chicagoland Speedway, on Sept. 14, and ends at Homestead-Miami Speedway, on Nov. 16.
More about Nascar, chase for the Sprint cup, Jimmie Johnson, Matt Kenseth, jamie mcmurray
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