And so it begins…here are your 2008 Chasers!
- Kyle Busch
- Carl Edwards
- Jimmie Johnson
- Dale Earnhardt Jr.
- Clint Bowyer
- Denny Hamlin
- Jeff Burton
- Tony Stewart
- Greg Biffle
- Jeff Gordon
- Kevin Harvick
- Matt Kenseth
I have to admit I haven’t really watched much of NASCAR over the last few weeks. I know that is kind of hard to believe, but I have had quite a bit going on in my life right now especially at work. There are days at work I feel like I work for NASCAR with the every changing procedures, policies, etc. UGH!!! Anyhow, I have gone on a little fact finding mission this afternoon. I thought I would focus my post race post on the The Chase. I didn’t really watch all that much of the race so I don’t feel like I could make any sound judgements about the race.
I am excited about this Chase and not because Tony made the Chase. He is sitting 8th right now 80 points back of Kyle Busch. In my opinion, I don’t think you will be able to win the chase unless you win a few races. That’s just the way it is. There are those out there who think it will be a three man race and yes I will include myself in that group, but I am going to step back and leave those three out of it for a moment. Let’s take a look at the other 9 drivers in the Chase.
- Dale Earnhardt Jr.–He is having a good year, well compared to last year. He is sitting 4th in the points and has a win. I just don’t know if he will be able to make a challenge for the championship this year. Over the last 6 races, he has had 0 wins, 1 top 5, 1 top 10. He is going to have to light it up in order to catch his teammate Jimmie as well as Kyle and Carl.
- Clint Bowyer–He barely made it into the Chase as it is. Yes he has a win and he is sitting 5th right now, but he has struggled over the last several races. Over the last 6 races, he has had only 3 top 10s. There was a point during the race at Richmond he was out of the top 12. I just don’t know.
- Denny Hamlin–I really haven’t followed Denny too much this year. I know he is Tony and Kyle’s temmate and you would think I would have kept up with him, but he is just not appealing to me. He does have one win at Martinsville earlier in the year and he does pretty well at New Hampshire. If he can get a good jump early on, he might be able to challenge for the top spot. Definite wild card here.
- Jeff Burton–He has one win this season at the spring Bristol race. I never count Jeff Burton out in a race until he has either crashed out or is too many laps down to catch the leader. Like Denny, I think he will be a wild card during the Chase
- Greg Biffle–I have always like Greg as a driver. He isn’t afraid to take chances to win a race. He has a good season this year. Back in 2005, he lost the championship to Tony by only 35 points. In 2006 and 2007, the Biff finished 13th and 14th respectively. Now he is sitting 9th. In 2005, he started the Chase in second spot, but that was before all the bonus points played into the Chase and seeding. Greg is right there. He just needs that little push to get over the hump and he will be able to challenge the Three Amigos.
- Jeff Gordon–I just don’t know. One week it looks like Jeff is going to challenge for the win and the next well…his car is just crap. Jeff didn’t forget how to drive. He is a 4-time champion. I just think this car has him all mixed up. I don’t know if Jeff will be able to turn it around in the last 10 races. Over the past 6 he has had no wins, 1 top 5, 3 top 10s, and a rare DNF.
- Kevin Harvick–Next to Carl Edwards, he has the best run over the last 6 races. 3 top 5s and 6 top 10s. He hasn’t won a race this season, but that doesn’t mean he couldn’t just open up can and win a few. I like his chances in the Chase. He is definitely one of my two darkhorses.
- Matt Kenseth–Like Jeff Burton, you can never count out Matt in a race unless he has crashed out and/or too many laps down. He isn’t known for his qualifying efforts, but that doesn’t matter. He quitely makes his way up through the field and then the next thing you know he is either challenging for the lead or leading. He along with Jimmie Johnson has made the Chase every single year.
And finally (last but defintely not least), Mr. Tony Stewart. I hate to say it, but I just don’t know if Tony can get it together for the last 10 races. It pains me to say, but he has quite a bit going on. He is preparing to run his last 10 races wtih the team he has known for the last 10 years. He has exciting things coming up for 2009. And to be honest, his attention is focused in too many areas at the moment. I know what it is like to be at your old job awaiting to head to the new job. You want to do the best you can at the current job, but how can you now get excited and yes distracted with the new opportunity presented ahead of you. That’s where I believe Tony is at the moment. You could tell the frustration level has reached the maximum boiling point. That was evident after the race on Sunday. The win was right there. He could taste it along with his fans, but Jimmie Johnson out raced him. That’s it. He is going to have to get on one of his famous hot streaks if he is even going to challenge for the championship.
Now…who do I think will make it to the top to win all the marbles? This has been somewhat a difficult thing to pin down. Kyle looks to be the safe bet as well as Carl, but Jimmie is peaking at the right time and we all know when Jimmie gets in the zone, he is pretty much unbeatable. Last year he won 4 of the Chase races. Even in the 2006 Chase when most of us thought he was out of it after Talladega, he finished no further back than 9th to win the whole thing. So with that information in front of me, I am going to have to take Jimmie Johnson to win it in 2008.
It’s a toss up between Greg Biffle and Kevin Harvick as my dark house. They both have the potential to just bust out during the last 10 races, but I am going to have to go with The Biff on this one, but only by a small margin.
Now, let’s sit back and watch The Chase all unfold.
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