By the numbers: The 2013 Chasers at Martinsville

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The 2013 Chase for the Sprint Cup is coming down to its final battles, and this weekend brings the championship contenders to Martinsville Speedway, NASCAR’s oldest circuit and the shortest track in all of Sprint Cup (.526-mile).

Sunday’s running of the Goody’s Headache Relief Shot 500 powered by Kroger will mark the seventh race in the 2013 Chase, and the plot has thickened now that Jimmie Johnson has assumed control of the points lead.

His edge over Matt Kenseth is only four points, but Johnson would seem to have a prime chance to build upon it after pummeling the field at the “paperclip” back in April.

Johnson has notched eight victories at this track, and another big day for him would mean trouble for the other Chasers that still have a legitimate shot at this point: Kenseth, Kyle Busch (-26 points), Kevin Harvick (-26 points), and Jeff Gordon (-36 points).

But based on past performance, Gordon could be up for a victory as well. His career success at Martinsville, like Johnson’s, is staggering. We’ll see if the two Hendrick Motorsports teammates are fighting each other for the win Sunday.

With a hat tip to NASCAR, here’s how each of the 13 Chase drivers have done over their careers at Martinsville:

Jimmie Johnson (Leader – 2,254 points)
· Eight wins, 16 Top-5s, 20 Top-10s
· Average Finish: 5.3 in 23 races
· Series-best Average Running Position of 5.9
*Series-high 7,849 Laps in the Top 15 (92.0%)

Matt Kenseth (second, -4 points)
· Three Top-5s, eight Top-10s
· Average Finish: 15.8 in 27 races
· Average Running Position: 16.9, 16th-best

Kyle Busch (third, -26 points)
· Eight Top-5s, nine Top-10s
· Average Finish: 16.1 in 17 races
· Average Running Position: 13.5, seventh-best

Kevin Harvick (fourth, -26 points)
· One win, three Top-5s, 10 Top-10s
· Average Finish: 16.6 in 24 races
· Average Running Position: 14.0, ninth-best

Jeff Gordon (fifth, -36 points)
· Seven wins, 26 Top-5s, 33 Top-10s
· Average Finish: 7.0 in 41 races
· Average Running Position: 6.2, second-best
*Series-high 968 Fastest Laps Run
*Series-high 600 Quality Passes

Dale Earnhardt Jr. (sixth, -52 points)
· 10 Top-5s, 14 Top-10s
· Average Finish: 13.4 in 27 races
· Average Running Position: 11.0, fourth-best

Greg Biffle (seventh, -53 points)
· Four Top-10s
· Average Finish: 20.8 in 21 races
· Average Running Position: 21.2, 21st-best

Clint Bowyer (eighth, -57 points)
· Three Top-5s, nine Top-10s
· Average Finish: 13.2 in 15 races
· Average Running Position: 13.0, sixth-best

Kurt Busch (ninth, -62 points)
· One win, two Top-5s, four Top-10s
· Average Finish: 21.7 in 26 races
· Average Running Position: 18.8, 19th-best

Carl Edwards (10th, -68 points)
· One Top-5, five Top-10s
· Average Finish: 16.1 in 18 races
· Average Running Position: 16.1, 14th-best

Ryan Newman (11th, -72 points)
· One win, seven Top-5s, 11 Top-10s
· Average Finish: 14.3 in 23 races
· Average Running Position: 14.8, 10th-best

Joey Logano (12th, -74 points)
· One Top-5, two Top-10s
· Average Finish: 16.1 in nine races
· Average Running Position: 17.8, 18th-best

Kasey Kahne (13th, -101 points)
· Three Top-5s, four top 10s; one pole
· Average finish: 19.8 in 19 races
· Average Running Position: 20.1, 20th-best

Neuville wins Rally Australia; Ogier takes FIA WRC title

Sebastien Ogier. Photo: Getty Images
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COFFS HARBOUR, Australia (AP) Belgium’s Thierry Neuville won Rally Australia by 22.5 seconds on Sunday as torrential rain added drama to the last day of the last race of the World Rally Championship season.

Neuville entered the final day with an almost 20 second advantage after inheriting the rally lead Saturday when his Hyundai teammate, defending champion Andreas Mikkelsen crashed and was forced to retire for the day.

His lead was halved by Jari-Matti Latvala early Sunday as monsoon-like rain made conditions treacherous on muddy forest stages on the New South Wales coast. The rain stopped on the short Wedding Bells stage where Neuville was almost 5 seconds quicker than his rivals, stretching his lead to 14.7 seconds entering the last stage.

COFFS HARBOUR, AUSTRALIA – NOVEMBER 17: Thierry Neuville of Belgium and Nicolas Gilsoul of Belgium compete in their Hyundai Motorsport WRT Hyundai i20 coupe WRC during Day One of the WRC Australia on November 17, 2017 in COFFS HARBOUR, Australia. (Photo by Massimo Bettiol/Getty Images)

That stage was full of incident. The driver’s door on Neuville’s Hyundai i20 coupe swung open in the middle of the stage and Neuville had to slam it closed as he approached a corner.

Latvala’s Toyota then crashed seconds from the end of the stage, allowing Estonia’s Ott Tanak, in a Ford, to take second place overall and New Zealalnd’s Haydon Paddon, in a Hyundai, to sneak into third.

Sebastian Ogier was fourth after winning the final, power stage but the Frenchman had already clinched his fifth world title before Rally Australia began. Neuville’s win was his fourth of the season, two more than Ogier, and was enough to give him second place in world drivers’ standings for the third time in five years.

Ogier owed his drivers’ title to his consistency: he retired only once and finished no worse than fifth all season.

Neuville admitted the last day was touch and go as the rain made some stages perilous, forcing the cancellation of the second to last stage.

“That was a hell of a ride,” Neuville said. “Really, really tricky conditions.

“I kept the car on the road but it was close sometimes. I knew I could make a difference but I had to be clever. You lose grip, you lose control and the car doesn’t respond to your input.”