By Peter Carcia
TheRacingExperts.com Reporter
9/3/2010


File:AtlantaMotorSpeedwayAerial2009.jpg

         Saturday night was a sight of history barely anybody wanted to see. Kyle Busch, one of the most hated drivers in racing, became the first driver to win the Cup, Truck, and Nationwide races in the same weekend. Regardless of his major feat, many fans continued to boo at him throughout the weekend. Regardless of the unsatisfied people in the stands, Kyle is locked in to the chase with the win on Saturday night. Some would rather see the 5-peat from the “forty-dominate,” but like it or not, he’s in the same rhythm as he was in the regular season two years ago.

            Speaking of the race for the 5-peat, it is a total 180 for Mr. Perfection. His Colombian buddy put him into the wall, and now Jimmie and crew chief Chad Knaus are in desperate mode, not so much in the chase hunt, but getting the winning circle attitude heading into the Chase in 4 weeks. Unfortunately, this was the one race in his glorious run from this year, (Fontana spring to Bristol spring) this was the one race he did not win. Don’t let that stop him from win number 6, though. Of Johnson’s 5 wins, only the one inFontana was a definite win, receiving his first road course and Bristol victories, some important parts of the season he hadn’t yet received. However, time is running out on Johnson to get back on track.

            Kyle Busch wasn’t the only man who joined Kevin Harvick in the lock-in club. Jeff Gordon, although relatively quiet throughout the Bristol race, he was able to finish 11th, enough to lock himself into the field after consistency to keep the second place spot in the points. Now he faces a track where, only counting the people still in contention is third by way of average finish.

            Bristol was also the breeding ground for drivers falling out of contention. Paul Menard, who started off unexpectedly strong in the early stages of the circuit, AJ Allmendinger, who stayed consistently in the high teens in points all season, and David Ragan, who showed his inexperience for the second consecutive year all fell out of the race for the chase after finishing more than a lap down. This leaves Joey Logano, Juan Montoya, Martin Truex Jr., and Dale Jr. to live on the edge. All of them must finish better than whoever ends up 12th at the checkered if they have any chance of staying in this thing, leaving 17 to bout for 12 spots.

            Meanwhile, a repeat of Mark Martin’s magical 2009 has 101 reasons why it won’t happen. The veteran finished 23rd compared to Bowyer’s 4th at Thunder Valley, making him in a bigger hole now that he also has Jamie McMurray a marker ahead of him. Atlanta has not been the biggest standout for him in year’s past, and with yet another one of his dismal multi-year win droughts beginning to form, he is now heading into desperation mode from here on in.

 

            Many things at stake here in Atlanta:

  1. Every driver from 4th to 11th can lock into the chase as long as they don’t DNF the race. If they do DNF or have a bad performance, they have to make sure whoever is in 13th doesn’t have a legitimate chance of taking the checkered.
  2. Jamie McMurray must finish 34 spots better than Clint Bowyer to get into chase position.
  3. Mark Martin must finish 35 spots better than Bowyer and do better than McMurray.
  4. Ryan Newman must finish 39 spots better than Bowyer and 7 better than Martin and McMurray.
  5. Kasey Kahne must finish 42 spots better than Bowyer, 13 better than Martin and McMurray, and 7 spots better than Newman.
  6. In order to stay in contention: Joey Logano must finish 41 spots better than the driver in 12th place after the checkered has flown.
  7. Martin Truex Jr. must finish 35 spots better than 12th.
  8. JP Montoya must finish 13 spots better than 12th.
  9. Dale Jr. must finish 6 spots better than 12th.
  10. David Reutimann must finish better than 12th.

 

            As you can see, 12th place is a very hard place to be in right now. Clint Bowyer, who is currently in that position, has taken the challenge quite well after decent finishes in the last few weeks, but now even more drivers in desperation mode are watching him carefully coming into Atlanta. Plus, if 4th through 11thdo well Labor Day weekend, he’ll be the only guy that can fall out left, making the situation even more crucial. 

 

Rk.

Driver

Pts

2Chase

2Next

2Lead

Starts

Wins

Top5

Top10

Avg Atlanta

1

Kevin Harvick

3521

+701

0

0

24

3

11

16

19.8

2

Jeff Gordon

3242

+422

-279

-279

24

0

10

13

12.4

3

Kyle Busch

3170

+350

-72

-351

24

3

6

12

18.3

4

Carl Edwards

3113

+293

-57

-408

24

0

5

12

15.2

5

Denny Hamlin

3108

+288

-5

-413

24

5

9

10

15.9

6

Tony Stewart

3107

+287

-1

-414

24

0

6

13

12.0

7

Jeff Burton

3101

+281

-6

-420

24

0

4

12

17.2

8

Matt Kenseth

3095

+275

-6

-426

24

0

5

10

13.1

9

Jimmie Johnson

3077

+257

-18

-444

24

5

8

12

10.8

10

Kurt Busch

3073

+253

-4

-448

24

2

8

14

18.7*

11

Greg Biffle

3055

+235

-18

-466

24

1

5

14

15.0

12

Clint Bowyer

2920

+100

-135

-601

24

0

4

12

16.4

13

Jamie McMurray

2820

-100

-100

-701

24

2

7

9

20.9

14

Mark Martin

2819

-101

-1

-702

24

0

5

7

17.3

15

Ryan Newman

2802

-118

-17

-719

24

1

2

7

17.9

16

Kasey Kahne

2784

-136

-18

-737

24

0

6

8

16.0

17

David Reutimann

2765

-155

-19

-756

24

1

5

5

27.3

18

Dale Earnhardt Jr.

2750

-170

-15

-771

24

0

2

6

12.0

19

Juan Pablo Montyoa

2729

-191

-21

-793

24

1

5

11

18.3

20

Martin Truex Jr.

2660

-260

-69

-861

24

0

1

6

24.6

21

Joey Logano

2636

-284

-24

-885

24

0

2

9

29.0

*won spring race

 

            After the days in Dixie, the Sprint Cup Series will be headed to the much anticipated race atRichmond, which will decide the 12 drivers heading to 500 points, and the chase for the cup. Until we get back to the early rising and the bus ride to hell, I’ll see you on the track.