Richmond trio could rule Darlington

May 8, 2007 6:55 AM

Jeff Gordon, Jimmie Johnson, and Kyle Busch have combined to average a finish of 3.8 in their last 12 starts.

Last week at Richmond they finished 1-2-4, the second time that has occurred this season during the COT races. Johnson has four wins this season on four tracks with two totally different cars.

J.J. moved up two spots in the standings with the win, giving him seven top 5’s on the season. That’s an absolute fowl number except when you consider the points leader, Jeff Gordon, has eight top 5 finishes.

You kind of get the idea that something is wrong? How is it possible for one team to be so dominant and all the others so average?

The best thing about the race at Darlington this week is that the track is so different. Elements of the uncertainty could see a car other than a Hendrick Chevrolet win the race. Darlington has a weird configuration at each end of the track and the rough asphalt grinds away at tires like a sand blaster.

This week, we may even see a Ford win again or perhaps a Dodge for the first time.

In recent Darlington history, there has been assortment of varied manufacturers, drivers, and owners win. The last two races were won by Roush Racing’s Greg Biffle in a Ford. Johnson won twice at Darlington in 2004, the last year that the historic track hosted two Nextel Cup events in the same calendar year.

Prior to that, there were some real bombs that hit at Darlington because of all the intangibles. Drivers like Terry Labonte, Ricky Craven, Sterling Marlin, and Ward Burton post wins with all different makes. Each paid very well when they won.

Let’s not go too far this week and get away from what we know about the COT. On the tiered platform Hendrick is light years ahead, with Gibbs trailing slightly. Then it goes Childress, DEI, and one step below to Roush and Penske.

You hate to handicap wrecks or tire misfortunes, but at Darlington that has to be part of the thought process. Johnson and Gordon are each 4/1 favorites. Wouldn’t it seem logical to think perhaps someone with past Darlington success and a COT capable of hanging around could take advantage of error or misfortune? So far, the Hendrick team has avoided miscues.

We don’t want to go too far out there, but it may be safe to include Kurt Busch and Greg Biffle as candidates to contend this week with the favorites. The odds are right because the bookies have been raising odds on everyone else to entice action on anyone but Johnson and Gordon.

Apparently, the books think they are sure bets this week.