(photo by Leon Hammack)
The pre-Chase season has ended! All twenty six races in the 2009 pre-season are complete. Now it time for the Top 12 to “pull your belts down tight, pull your gloves up over your elbows, flip your visor down, and get focused on the next 10 races”! “It is time to let the Big Dog eat”!
I am going to try to look at the 12 drivers and handicap their chances, kinda sorta!
There are four teams that start 40 points out of first place. Those teams are, the #42 Target EGR Chevy of Juan Pablo Montoya (JPM), the #39 Army Stewart-Haas Racing Chevy of Ryan Newman, the #15 3M Roush-Fenway Racing Ford of Greg Biffle, and the #99 Aflac Roush-Fenway Ford of Carl Edwards. Of those four teams, keep your eye on the #42 Target Chevy of JPM! That team has been very consistent in their last 10 races and could be a very dark horse in the Chase! Cousin Carl has that delicate broken “loud pedal” foot that may prove to be a handicap for him as the Chase drags on.
There are three teams that sit 30 point out of first place. Those teams are the #24 Dupont Hendrick Motorsports Chevy of Jeff Gordon, the #83 Red Bull Toyota of Brian Vickers, and the #2 Miller Lite Dodge of Kurt Busch.. Brian Vickers has scored the most points of any team in the last 9 races, keep your eyes on that team! Jeff Gordon, a four-time Cup champion, has been very consistent in the finishes in the last half of the pre-season. Kurt Busch, a past Cup Champion, is rebounding and could have something for the other 11 drivers.
The next group is 20 points back in the Chase. The #9 Budweiser Richard Petty Motorsports Dodge of Kasey Kahne is just one week removed from a big victory at Atlanta Motor Speedway Labor Day Weekend. The #11 FedEx Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota of Denny Hamlin is coming off a very emotional and momentum type victory at Richmond International Raceway Saturday night. That victory could give them something for Louden this weekend.
Just 10 points back of the leader is the #14 Office Depot Stewart-Haas Racing Chevy of two time Cup Champion Tony Stewart. In this same group being 10 points back is the #48 Lowe’s Hendrick Motorsports Chevy of the current defending and 3 time Cup champion, Jimmie Johnson. Jimmie Johnson has won 14 of the 50 races that have been held in the current Chase format! That speaks volumes in and of itself!! But can that team defy all odds and be the only team in NASCAR history to win 4 championships in a roiw? Tony Stewart has slumped as of late in the season, but still a force to be reckoned with for the Chase.
Alone at the top of the Chase is the 50 years old KID, the #5 Kellogg’s/Carquest Hendrick Motorsports Chevy of Mark Martin. That teams has been performing very consistently in the last 10 races of”the pre-season”. Could this be the year that Martin wins his first Championship? He has finished second on more than one occasion!
This is a very tough one to call! However, the team that comes out of the box at Louden growling, biting, clawing, and fighting, just might have the best chance to take their team to Homestead with a lead in Chase!
What is your take on this years Chase? Who is your favorite to win?
TIL NEXT TIME, I AM STILL WORKING ON MY REDNECK!