2 NASCAR races left in Chase for Championship

Nov 4, 2008 5:07 PM

Finish Line by Micah Roberts |

Only two races to go in the Chase for the Championship and Jimmie Johnson still has a commanding lead over the rest of the field.

However, last week he saw his margin shrink from 183 points down to 106 after a sluggish Texas race that saw Carl Edwards fume his way to victory with a 68-lap final tank of fuel.

Despite the 77-point drop in points, Johnson’s lead is pretty big. The largest lead that anyone has ever come back from after two races is Alan Kulwicki, who in 1992 was behind 85 points. That year was the only time that anyone has really ever come back.

For some reason in NASCAR there are rarely upsets with the champions. The driver gets the bulk of the credit, but in reality the true winner is basically the driver with the best team that puts out the most consistent cars. Jimmie Johnson for the third consecutive year has done this and it likely should have been the four straight.

If Johnson were to finish seventh or better in each of the next two races, no one can touch him regardless of what they do. The way he has been running lately, the under 7 would be a great proposition wager right now.

Johnson goes to Phoenix this week to race on a track where he has won the last two races run there. In five of the six mid-flat tracks run this season, Johnson has won twice and finished second in the other. Those tracks are New Hampshire, Richmond, and Phoenix.

Any driver doing well on one should do well on the other because the crew chiefs use the same balance and weighting system for all three, or at least the good ones do.

The driver that could show up to give everyone a a surprise is Clint Bowyer. He won at Richmond in the spring and last season he won at New Hampshire. Next up on the flat mid-track list is Phoenix.

Because Bowyer isn’t a household NASCAR name like Johnson, Busch, and Edwards, he’s likely to be found at a very high price. He will be our selection this week to win.

Other drivers that consistently do well here include the DEI teammates of Martin Truex Jr and Mark Martin. The ageless Martin was so good at Phoenix in the spring that it changed his originally scheduled program of taking this race off and racing in Homestead, south of Miami.

Instead he’ll flip-flop the dates and skip the season finale and jump in a full-time ride for Hendrick Motorsports next season.

Clock ticking for Gordon

Jeff Gordon has 81 wins in his NASCAR Sprint Cup career, but none in 2008. He is in danger of ending an incredible streak of 14 consecutive seasons with at least two wins. In other words, he’d have to "win out" to continue the streak.

In 28 combined races at Phoenix and Homestead, Gordon has just one win. Also, Homestead is one of two tracks at which Gordon has yet to win in his NASCAR Sprint Cup career (Texas is the other).

Micah Roberts is a race and sports director at Station Casinos, who has contributed to GamingToday for the last 11 years.

Copyright 2008 GamingToday

at phoenix
Clint Bowyer
Jimmie Johnson
Matt Kenseth
Mark Martin
Kyle Busch


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