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Chase Bubble Watch: Playoff picture analysis ahead of Texas

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"Six-Time" has the chance to earn a new nickname, thanks to Jimmie Johnson's victory Sunday at Martinsville Speedway in the opener of the three-race Round of 8.


Johnson, a six-time Sprint Cup champion, led the final 92 laps -- all coming after he had a tire rub that required body repairs on Lap 198 of 500 following contact with Denny Hamlin. The triumph pushes Johnson to the Championship 4 at Homestead-Miami Speedway for the first time since the current Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup format began in 2014.


MORE: Hamlin heated following contact with Johnson


The field will be cut to four after two more races, at Texas Motor Speedway and Phoenix International Raceway to determine who will be vying for the 2016 Sprint Cup Series championship.


Before the season enters its final three races, let's take a look at what the Chase picture holds after Sunday's race at the short track.


Who's hot: Johnson's dominance at Martinsville should not come has a surprise: He now has won nine times at the "Paperclip." It's his rally that should be commended. He captured the checkered flag after suffering damage that resulted in tire rub early, making the victory somewhat remarkable.


Joe Gibbs Racing continued its strong run in the Chase, with Denny HamlinMatt Kenseth and Kyle Busch finishing three-four-five. All three led laps at Martinsville, with Kenseth leading a race-high 176 laps and Hamlin out front for 48 laps. Busch led three circuits. 


Who's not: Stewart-Haas Racing had a terrible day, with Kurt Busch faring most miserably of two SHR drivers in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup.


Busch had trouble keeping up with the leaders from the start, and finished 22nd -- three laps down.


His teammate, Kevin Harvick, earned a pit road speeding penalty on Lap 131 -- when he was running in fourth place. That sent him to the rear of the field, and he never recovered. Harvick finished 20th and two laps down.


But the worst luck of all hit Joe Gibbs Racing driver Carl Edwards, who slammed into the outside wall on Lap 357 of 500 when his right front tire went down. Edwards' No. 19 Toyota suffered enough damage that he went to the garage for repairs, but he was able to return to finish 36th, 23 laps down.


RELATED: Edwards hits the wall at Martinsville


Four in, four out: Here's a look at the Chase bubble, with four drivers being eliminated after the penultimate race of the season, Nov. 13 at Phoenix International Raceway (2:30 p.m. ET, NBC, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio).

Chase Bubble Watch
Standing Driver Points Differential from Cut-off
1. Jimmie Johnson *Locked in with Martinsville win
2. Denny Hamlin +6
3. Matt Kenseth +6
4. Kyle Busch +4
------------ CUT-OFF LINE ------------
5. Joey Logano -4
6. Kevin Harvick -16
7. Kurt Busch -18
8. Carl Edwards -32

Up next: AAA Texas 500, Sunday, Nov. 6, 2 p.m. ET, Texas Motor Speedway (NBC, PRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio)


Who it favors
Most wins: Jimmie Johnson, 6 (26 races); Carl Edwards, 3 (23 races).
Best driver rating: Jimmie Johnson 107.8 (26 races); Matt Kenseth 104.9 (27 races); Kyle Busch 102.9 (21 races).
Best average finish: Jimmie Johnson, 8.3 (26 races); Matt Kenseth 9.5 (27 races); Kyle Busch 11.9 (21 races).

Who it hurts

Worst percentage of top 10s: Joey Logano, 37.5 percent (6 in 16 races); Denny Hamlin, 47.6 percent (10 in 21 races); Kyle Busch, 52.4 percent (11 in 21 races).
Worst driver rating: Joey Logano, 80.5 (16 races); Kurt Busch, 88.5 (27 races); Kevin Harvick 89.1 (27 races).
Worst average finish: Joey Logano, 17.5 (16 races); Kurt Busch, 15.3 (27 races); Carl Edwards, 14.2 (23 races).


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