Short track racing has given NASCAR some great moments this season, and once again NASCAR fans were not disappointed. With severe weather moving in over the next few days, the start time was moved up by a half hour to accomodate.
But a storm of another took place on the "Paper Clip" known as Martinsville.
A popular pick among drivers to have a strong run, Denny Hamlin, sadly had some Halloween tricks plague him in the end. Two speeding penalties were hard to overcome, but he managed to make his way to the front. However, when electrical issues began popping up, it got interesting. Hamlin's car would shut off, refire, shut off, then refire again. Eventually, a trip to the garage revealed the master switch, the one that controls the initial firing of the engine shorted out.
Hamlin finished 33rd, seemingly ending a title run that was strong, and in the No. 11 team's grasp.
Points leader, Brad Keselowski, started deep in the field, but worked his way forward. A late caution had him decide on his own to stay out, while all other lead cars pit. Ultimately that would mean doom for the No. 2.
Keselowski salvaged a sixth-place run, but in doing so lost his lead.
The reason, the eventual winner. Always a threat at Martinsville, it was Jimmie Johnson leading the most laps to get his first Chase victory of the season, the deepest he's ever gone before winning a race in the final 10 events.
His maximum-points run now puts him ahead of Keselowski by just two points, meaning with three races to go, it's still anyone's race to win.
Only one writer benefitted from the victory, but the battle for the lead is still tight. Only 15 points separate the top two, with ties for positions two and three, along with positions four and five. Less than two races separate first and 12th, meaning no one is out of the running just yet.
Take a look at how everyone stacks up after the Tums Fast Relief 500:
Rob Tiongson (2279) Jeff Gordon finished 7th (4)
James Broomhead (2264) Jeff Gordon finished 7th (3)
Dustin Parks (2264) Jeff Gordon finished 7th (2)
Kelly Crandall (2259) Jeff Gordon finished 7th (4)
Sal Sigala Jr. (2259) Jeff Gordon finished 7th (3)
Ryan O'Hara (2247) Denny Hamlin finished 33rd (2)
Patti Rodisch (2242) Jeff Gordon finished 7th (2)
Christopher Leone (2240) Jimmie Johnson WON (4)
Kara Martin (2209) Denny Hamlin finished 33rd (3)
Misan Akuya (2209) Denny Hamlin finished 33rd (1)
Michael Hirshbein (2204) Tony Stewart finished 27th (1)
Billy Fellin (2202) Tony Stewart finished 27th (5)
Next Race: Everyone is still within two races of the lead, so mathematically each writer is still in the hunt for the fantasy championship. The Chase itself is just as tight among the top-10. With three races remaining, the time has come to let the big guns out and go for the title.
It is only appropriate that the next track NASCAR visits includes a big star in it's state flag. Get out the six-shooters, bring out the boots and hats cause it's time to go to cowboy and cowgirl country. Up next on the schedule, one of the last two 1.5-mile speedways on the circuit, the Texas Motor Speedway. This race one year ago saw a title battle get cut in half, and the same is possible once more.
Writers, it's time to wrangle up some raging bulls. Your picks for the AAA Texas 500 are due by 10 p.m. ET on Thursday, November 1.