History points to Jimmie

Jul 29, 2008 6:53 PM

Finish Line by Micah Roberts | After this weekend’s event in Pocono, only five remain in the Race to the Chase.

The battle is heating up for the 12th and final position and what makes it even better is that it’s between teammates. The difference between 12th and 13th position is a mere two points between Childress drivers Clint Bowyer and Kevin Harvick.

Just back a bit further is David Ragan, who has really established himself as a real NASCAR driver. Also Brian Vickers, who was second in the June race at Pocono, and Ryan Newman are in the mix. It’ll be interesting to see the strategies utilized over the next few weeks by all these drivers attempting to make NASCAR’s equivalent of the playoffs.

The Pocono race is only seven weeks after the first one held there. The setups for all the successful teams in that race should be well intact and ready to go again. Last week’s Brickyard race also gave a little insight for how this one will go because of the similar layout, minus the poor tire compound.

In June, Kasey Kahne won with Denny Hamlin in third. Jimmie Johnson and Carl Edwards finished sixth and ninth respectively. At the Brickyard, Johnson won with Edwards and Hamlin right behind him.

Johnson swept the 2004 Pocono season, Edwards won in 2005, and Hamlin swept in 2006. Those three drivers should be the starting point for wagering strategies this week.

A driver that could be added to the mix is Kasey Kahne. He was dominant in the June race but was pretty weak at the Brickyard in what was surprisingly not the same car he won with at Pocono. When Kahne’s team press release comes out on Tuesday, it’ll be the news that makes the difference between Kahne being the possible 5-1 favorite and being 15-1.

The one variable for this race that can’t be forgotten is Kyle Busch. He wasn’t a factor in either the Brickyard or the earlier Pocono race, but still has seven victories and can win just about anywhere he wants. Prior to the Brickyard, we had a week off and perhaps his dominance may have slipped our mind. So to refresh and get back to reality, Busch had won three of the last four races going into Indy.

Jeff Gordon is a four-time Pocono winner, who has finished in the Top 5 in half of his 30 career starts. Last year he won the first Pocono race and then finished fourth. He added a third at the Brickyard.

This season, his COT wasn’t ready for its first go around at Pocono and Gordon finished a disappointing 14th. However, the team rebounded well with a great Brickyard weekend that saw them fast in every practice and place fifth in the race. Look for Gordon to be in a good position to get his first win of 2008.

Nationwide in Montreal

The Nationwide Series makes its second ever visit north of the border. Last year’s inaugural event in Montreal was a huge success. Eight Canadians will participate in the race led by Patrick Carpentier, who will give up his Cup ride in Pocono to drive in his hometown.

Also featured will be Jacques Villenueve and road course ace Ron Fellows. Some of the hired guns for this event include Scott Pruett, Boris Said, and Max Papis. Because Fellows is driving the No. 5 JR Motorsports car, he will be the choice to win, followed by Carpentier who finished second last year as well. The best longshot is Australian Marcos Ambrose.

Micah Roberts has been a race and sports director with Station Casinos along with a motorsports columnist for GamingToday over the past 11 years.

Denny Hamlin
Jeff Gordon
Carl Edwards
Jimmie Johnson
Kasey Kahne


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