When it comes to this year’s Chase, Brad Keselowski and Jamie McMurray are to Jesse Pinkman as Jimmie Johnson and Matt Kenseth are to Heisenberg.
Though Keselowski and McMurray may not get the headlines, they’ve made a ton of noise, this year’s playoffs wouldn’t be the same without them – and you have to love their moxie.
For the first time since 2006, a non-Chase driver – aka “spoiler” – has won back-to-back Chase races. Prior to Keselowski’s win at Charlotte, the last spoiler to win a Chase race was Kasey Kahne in November of 2011 at Phoenix. The last time there were consecutive races won by non-Chase drivers was when Tony Stewart won at Atlanta and Phoenix during the 2006 playoffs.
There have never been three consecutive races won by “spoilers” in the 10-year history of the Chase. It could happen this year.
And Denny Hamlin’s the reason why.
Though Hamlin has slogged through a down year, Martinsville just might be the Rx he needs. He has 12 top 10s in 15 starts, and that includes four victories. He has tallied double or triple-digit lap led figures in each of the last eight Martinsville races.
And his season may be turning around. Two races ago at Charlotte, Hamlin notched his first top-10 finish since early June.