Conventional wisdom said Jimmie Johnson would wrest the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup lead from Brad Keselowski at Martinsville, and that's exactly what happened.
Johnson started from the pole and won for the seventh time at the .526-mile short track.
Keselowski, however, kept the damage to a minimum in a situation that was fraught with danger to his championship aspirations. Starting 32nd after a lackluster qualifying effort, Keselowski patiently worked his way through the field, using pit strategy when the situation dictated.
Keselowski finished sixth and saw his seven-point lead entering the race transformed into a two-point advantage for Johnson, but the driver of the No. 2 Dodge was elated to leave Martinsville that close to his rival.
"You can't count this team out," Keselowski said. "This team has a tremendous amount of heart. I'm proud of them.
"This championship is going to come down to Homestead (the season finale). You have to be in a position where (you've got a) shot at it. We have to do what we need to do to be in contention at Homestead."