Champ Or Chaser: The Chase for the Sprint Cup

Kyle LavigneAnalyst IOctober 11, 2008

There’s nothin’ like a good trip back home to make you forget about a rough day. That’s probably what’s on the minds of nearly all the Chase drivers after last week’s wreck/tire blowing fest at Talladega Super Speedway. The race saw a several blown tires, more than a few innocent victims, and a pair of big ones that gave the Chasers headaches.

Because of Talladega, Jeff Gordon can kiss any hope he had of winning a title this year good bye. He now sits 232 points adrift of the lead, far too much to make up without a lot of help. The same can probably be said of Dale Earnhardt Jr., who was a victim of Carl Edwards’ and Greg Biffle’s game of bumper cars.

Oh my, how fast things can change. However, not all was lost. The top three remain in relatively close proximity to each other, and we know how easily points can be lost. With that, here are your top five heading into tonight’s race at Lowe’s Motor Speedway.

1.Jimmie Johnson: One of the lucky few Chasers to escape trouble last week, Johnson’s lead in the standings now sits at a nice 72 points. Sure, it may provide some breathing space (he won’t lose the lead in one race, barring an early crash or engine failure). But, he has by no means reached high ground yet.

Anyone remember what Jeff Gordon’s margin was over Johnson after last year’s Lowe’s race. Yeah, it was about the same…and we all know who won last year’s title. Johnson may be starting to assert himself a little more, but there’s still a lot more season to go.

2.Carl Edwards: A week after giving us one of the moves of the year, he gives one of the dumbest moves of the year. However, he was responsible enough to admit his mistake afterward, a classy move on his part. So, I’ll leave his error right here.

His 72 point deficit mostly likely won’t be made up in one swoop, but can be chipped away at. Edwards will be back up near Johnson before Homestead, and a big step in that direction could be made tonight. Edwards had the fastest time in first practice and second fastest time in second practice; he’ll be very fast tonight.

3.Greg Biffle: The Biff should be in good shape this evening. He had one of best cars here last May, and might have won if not for the fuel mileage run at the end. He’ll be looking to rebound from his bad luck last week, and mostly likely will. The 1.5 mile ovals have always been a Roush Fenway specialty, and Biffle seems hungry to get himself back in the thick of things.

4.Jeff Burton: Well, he did what he was supposed to at ‘Dega: he kept himself out of trouble and recorded a fourth place finish. The end results did prove to help him out some, as he’s now within 100 of the lead. He’ll need a win to help his cause, but consistency will also be a friend to have to next few races. If anyone in front of him falters, look for Mr. Burton to pick up the pieces.

5.Clint Bowyer: Like Burton, he also avoided the trouble and recorded a top five finish. However, unlike Burton, he lacks the consistency to make a title run.  That doesn’t mean can’t sneak in an odd win in the next few races, just don’t expect him to make a serious title run. He’s too far back (152 points behind) and not consistent enough to make a charge.  However, if you’re looking for a spoiler pick, this driver might not be a bad one.