The most terrifying entity that’s ever haunted NASCAR’s Sprint Cup Series came back from certain playoff death last weekend at Kansas Speedway, and now Jimmie Johnson and his horde will spend the next four weeks chasing Brad Keselowski, Denny Hamlin, Clint Bowyer and Kasey Kahne around like the myriad of frightened, horny teenagers in horror flicks.
Horror movie villains and monsters never die with the first bullet, torch or, in the case of “The Terminator”, crushing under a hydraulic compressor. The unstoppable forces of nature’s dark side always come back – or at least a piece of them do – to inflict more terror.
Even when Dr. Loomis shoots Michael Myers off a second-story porch, by the time he looks over the edge, the embodiment of evil is gone. After Alice Hardy takes down Pamela Voorhees, then inexplicably takes a nap in a boat, the vengeful mother’s son, and Satan’s emissary on Earth, Jason, pops up out of Crystal Lake. Nancy Thompson burned Freddy Krueger to a crisp, but it didn’t stop the nightmarish demon from coming back seven more times – even rebooting himself in 2010.
Dracula has been staked by Abraham Van Helsing or shoved into the sunlight by some overachieving teenage kid 100 times. Even with the price of gas these days, Leatherface always has enough fuel for his chain saw. As long as Lemarchand’s puzzle box exists, Pinhead will find steady work. Zombies, well, ’nuff said.
The most terrifying entity that’s ever haunted NASCAR’s Sprint Cup Series came back from certain playoff death last weekend at Kansas Speedway, and now Jimmie Johnson and his horde will spend the next four weeks chasing (get it?) Brad Keselowski, Denny Hamlin, Clint Bowyer and Kasey Kahne around like the myriad of frightened, horny teenagers in horror flicks.
After wrecking his car at Kansas last weekend with an unforced error, and ranking second in the driver standings, everyone thought Johnson’s quest for a sixth championship was doomed. Finally, the other contenders thought, the curse of the mummy had been lifted. Anyone who has watched a B-movie knows better.
Johnson’s crew feverishly repaired the car and, thanks to a wealth of caution flags, the five-time champ marched through the field with a wounded car to finish ninth, remaining just seven points behind the leader Keselowski. Seven points in the Cup standings is more than enough reach for Johnson to storm out of a darkened closet and grab his victims.
This week at Martinsville Speedway, Johnson could inflict the most dread.
In 21 visits to the narrow half-mile track, Johnson has won six times with 14 top-five finishes for an average of 5.8. His worst finish there in the last 20 starts is 12th. Conversely, Keselowski’s best finish in Martinsville is ninth with an average of 13.4 in five starts – which is a difference of nearly eight positions, or plenty for Johnson to take the points lead. Hamlin is a worthy challenger there with four wins and a 6.4 average finish, but also trails Johnson by 13 markers – Denny might as well swing his machete at a tree trunk. Bowyer and Kahne? Average finishes of 14.7 and 21.7, respectively, they might as well be the dumb jock or stoner – the first two to get whacked in every horror movie.
With that in mind, Martinsville is Johnson’s haunted house or abandoned carnival – the others are just prey this weekend.
Just sayin’: Looking for an original horror movie for the Halloween season? Rent/Netflix “Cabin In The Woods.” You’ll only be disappointed if you have no taste. ... Instead of compromising, players and the NHL – the fifth-most watched pro sport in America – keep hemorrhaging losses by axing more of the season. Talk about a horror show. ... Set against the backdrop of the Revolutionary War, “Assassin’s Creed III” will be released Tuesday. One of the missions in the popular video game franchise: Hunt down Benedict Arnold – or, the coolest task in any game ever made.
Chris Gill, who covers auto racing for The Leader, N.Y. can be reached at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter @TheLeaderGill.