The Chase is here. I for one am glad to get things going. Finally the reporters can stop discussing whether or not Dale Jr. will make the Chase. Those 100 points that were taken away from him earlier in the year didn’t come into play. He has not had a good run this year to challenge for the championship. He can now focus on just racing, just like Tony did last year.
Now let’s look at who has made the coveted 12 spots.
1. Jimmie Johnson–He has the momentum going into the Chase. He has won the last two races, but it’s not always where you start that matters. One of only two drivers to make each of the Chase races since it’s inception.
2. Jeff Gordon–I think he and the next driver are the ones to watch out for. Jeff has a good year. I belive his life outside of racing is good and that reflects on the race track.
3. Tony Stewart–He’s had good runs over the last couple of races. His pit crew needs to step up to Chase standards. Every time I looked up on Saturday, Tony lost spots coming out after a pit stop. It may have been 2 or 3 spots, but when it comes to winning a race that’s vital.
4. Carl Edwards–I have to admit I didn’t know he had been in the top 12 until a few weeks ago. I do have to defend myself on this one. I don’t keep up with Carl. I mean he does have a chance to win both championships this year, but with the three amigos above him it’s going to be rough.
5. Kurt Busch–He lost 100 driver points, got a new crew chief and raced his way into the Chase. I am not a fan of Big Shrub, but I have to give him props and say you can overcome a loss of 100 points and make the Chase.
6. Denny Hamlin–Two years in NASCAR and this is his second time in the Chase. Watch out.
7. Martin Truex Jr.–Congrats for making the Chase for the first time. I have always believed Truex was a good driver and he would make the Chase. He has had a quiet season this year. Who would have thought he would be the ONLY DEI car in the Chase.
8. Matt Kenseth–The only other driver besides Jimmie to make the Chase every year since it’s inception. I think Matt isn’t given enough press some times. He can drive the wheels of his car, but he has had some bad breaks throughout the year.
9. Kyle Busch–This kid can drive. He is growing on me. I think he will be a force in the Chase, but I am not sure he will win it all. He has to race over some of his future teammates as well as current teammates to get to the top.
10. Jeff Burton–Way to go Jeff. He was my dark horse pick last year, but had trouble late in last’s year Chase. I would like to seem him win one. He has the elder statesman of the group this year since Mark is not in the Chase this year.
11. Kevin Harvick–He started of the season on a high note with Daytona, but he has had some runs that almost cost him a spot in the Chase. I think he can challenge for the championship, but he has to bring the “A-game” every race.
12. Clint Bowyer–The only driver in the Chase who didn’t win a race during the “regular” season. I don’t think he will have a shot at the title, but it will be good experience for him. It’s nice to see all of the RCR teams in the Chase.
My pick: Tony Stewart.
My dark horse: Kyle Busch.
I do want to thank David Ragan for finishing third. He won me some dough in the driver’s pool I thought Carl Edwards was going to be the one to win me some cash, but that blew up when his engine let go.
I am looking forward to this year’s Chase. I think it will be interesting with 5 of the races being COT races.
Now on to some things I didn’t get a chance to comment on last week.
1. Toyota and Gibbs–I guess it doesn’t really matter to me. Tony Stewart can drive the wheels off anything he sits behind and the Camry will be the same. Winning championships is the name of the game in NASCAR. If this gets Gibbs to where they need to be, then so be it. And yes, I am excited about Kyle coming over to JGR. I believe JGR will be one to watch in 2008.
2. Junior and The Chase–This is a moot point. It just seems there’s not fight left in him this year. I am not saying he doesn’t have the fight in him, it’s just this year is pretty much a wash. He can just race and think about next year.
3. Dale–I loved the movie. It gave me a deeper understanding of what Dale meant to the sport and what the sport meant to Dale.
4. NASCAR in Primetime–I thought last week’s episode was interesting. I belive the last episode is on Wednesday. It’s been somewhat of an eye opening experience to me especially with regards how the NASCAR life can take a toll not only on the drivers but their family and loved ones as well. It’s all about the sacrifice and what one is willing to give to achieve the ultimate.
5. I saw that Dario Franchetti is coming over to NASCAR to drive for the #40 team. I guess NASCAR is the where everyone wants to be.
6. Robert Yates–Good luck and enjoy your retirement. Welcome aboard Travis.
7. Interesting to see how JJ ended up at Hall of Fame racing. Isn’t this a psuedo-JGR team???
On to Race #1–New Hampshire. GOOD LUCK BOYS!
1. If you told me both Michigan and Notre Dame would start off the season 0-2, I would have asked you what you were smoking.
2. Major props to Fresno State for taking Texas A&M to 3 OTs. Too bad A&M won. That’s ok–the Ags have to still play us and Tech has owned them over the past 10 years.
3. Dallas won. There were glimpses of years past, but that’s it–glimpses.
Have a great week everyone!