Dustin Off the Next Race: Sylvania 300 at New Hampshire
It now comes down to the final 10 races to determine a champion. The Chase is now set, and the top 12 drivers now must strap in for what appears to be the tightest championship run in years.
First on the list is the New Hampshire Motor Speedway and the Sylvania 300. This race has often set the standard for how the Chase will be for every driver. It was this race in 2004 that Kurt Busch won and went on to take his first Sprint Cup title.
Busch is a driver to keep a watch on because he has run well at New Hampshire and could surprise a lot of people.
As far as the drivers in the Chase that are contenders for the win, the two drivers I would watch for are Greg Biffle and Jimmie Johnson.
Biffle has been very quiet this year in his quest for the championship. Despite his top-five and top-10 runs, he just hasn't gotten to victory lane. His run at Michigan in June would have given him a win, but his gas tank ran dry two corners from the finish.
Biffle has run well at this track, and he's in the same position that Busch was in 2004. He could easily make the run to the front and snatch the title away from the leaders.
Meanwhile, Johnson is back in the Chase and ready to start his quest for a fourth-consecutive title. Johnson has two wins at New Hampshire, and has often come into the Chase with all the momentum.
This year, that is not the case. Johnson must take a different approach to getting the title. He comes in sitting third in points, but has not won since Indy in late July. New Hampshire is a good track for the No. 48 car, but he needs to come out of the box strong if he's going to win it. Watch for Chad Knaus to make that car strong come Sunday afternoon.
Outside the Chase, there is a driver who I think could steal the thunder from all those drivers. Better watch out for Joey Logano.
Sure it was strategy and weather that gave him the victory, but don't forget Logano blew a tire early in the race. He was able to rebound and put himself in contention. That says a lot for a rookie and his team.
Logano could possibly sneak in and put that Home Depot Toyota at the front and take some of the attention off the Chase contenders.
This weekend the Chase begins. Every fan, crew member and driver has their attention focused on New Hampshire. They all want to run well, but don't want to cause problems for the top 12 contenders.
A good run at this track could show who will be the top title contenders for the remaining nine races.
Coverage of the Sylvania 300 begins at 1 PM on ABC.
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