Jimmie Johnson’s crash in Texas shook up the Chase and the championship picture is suddenly more competitive than it was one week ago. Remember, probability is based upon past performance this season predicting future success. My notes with two races to go:

1) Anytime you are trying to pass BOTH David Reutimann and Sam Hornish Jr. on the outside of the same turn on lap 3 of any race – that’s just a boneheaded move. When you have a big points leads in the 34th race of the year and you are close to a historic fourth consecutive title, it just makes the move even more boneheaded. Johnson blaming Hornish at the end of the race for his own mistake? That’s just being an ass. On the plus side, thank you Jimmie for making the Chase interesting.

2) Mark Martin, my personal favorite, saw his chances go way up after beating Johnson by 34 positions. If you combine Talladega and Texas, Martin has gained 45 points on Johnson in those two races. Only 73 points left to go. He can still pull it out, and there’s life in him now.

3) By cutting into Johnson’s lead, Jeff Gordon also gained a small chance of being the title winner. But 13th place isn’t going to get the job done, especially when he started on the pole.

4) Kurt Busch and Tony Stewart would have stayed at zero percent the rest of the season had the race played out like we’ve seen so far this year. But Jimmie Johnson scored his worst finish of the entire year, which shifted our numbers a bit. That helped bring Busch and Stewart (slightly) into the title picture.

5) We add three more drivers to the official "out" section at the bottom in pink. Hamlin was already eliminated last week, so even his second place wasn’t good enough to do anything for him.

6) The most points Martin can score is 6,614, meaning Johnson needs 317 points in the next two races to clinch. That’s an average of 4th place in both races. That’s no simple task. Johnson needs two ninth places to stay ahead of Jeff Gordon.

7) Interesting tidbit: in the last two races combined, the Chase driver who has scored the most points is Greg Biffle, with fourth and eighth places earning him 302 points total.

8) In Phoenix last April Martin won and outscored Johnson by 30 points. A repeat of that outcome this weekend would really shift the title picture.

(All Left Turns contributor Dale Watermill is the creator of the Watermill Score and the FLOPPER Award and edits the racing statistics blog 36 Races. E-mail him at 36races@gmail.com.)
Related links:

Title race would be close under different point system
Winning in NASCAR is like counting cards
Chase bonus points are meaningless
Jimmie Johnson has most points at Chase tracks this season
The Watermill Score: How to win a Sprint Cup title
Replacing crew chiefs has not helped Dale Earnhardt Jr.