By Peter Carcia Lead Reporter

            If you know me well, you understand that I’m a cheap guy that doesn’t get ESPN, but from what I saw in the video recaps and such, all I want to do is ask one simple question:

            Xander Clements, are you a psychic?

            Surely enough, the majority of the drivers in the chase were caught up in some kind of wreck, the guy in 12th seed wins it, Keselowski gets a pole, Earnhardt Jr gets a top 10. Many were in shock mode this time in race one. Now, we turn the banking up big time, as the drivers in contention head just a bit south to The Monster Mile. People are looking forward to seeing if this is the beginning of a big change in the popularity scheme. 8 drivers are less than 100 points apart, and we’re ready for some action.


1. Denny Hamlin (5230 / Lead)- After a very inconsistent start to the race, Hamlin was able to rally to a second place finish at NHMS. Most of his news was interesting to hear. As he battled in 3-wide conditions with his biggest threat coming in (Jimmie Johnson), he ended up in a hole with many people ahead of them and ending up in a major wreck. Fortunately, with the field running by, last on the lead lap, and not a single reason to bring it behind the wall. You could call it a miracle, but what really had the heart attacks coming was the rally that followed. Hamlin was close to a win, and even though Bowyer was the winner, Hamlin felt accomplished in the finish. Dover however is somewhat of a weak spot compared to others, in dangerous form. He’s wrecked out 2 out of the 5 previous races at this track. A good amount of luck helped him on Sunday, but in this notorious mile, karma might come to bite him.

  • Finished 2nd last week @ NHMS
  • 22.8 Average @ Dover
  • Finished 4th in spring race


2. Clint Bowyer (5195 / -35)- That is not a typo, folks. Bowyer chose the right time to snap the 88-winless streak. For the second time in four years, he’s won an early chase race and ended (so far at least) with a good result. Bowyer has shown a lot of momentum now as we continue growing the tracks larger and larger. We’ve seen major success now, but let’s see how he’ll do in the longrun.

  • Won last week @ NHMS
  • 15.4 Average @ Dover
  • Finished 17th  in spring race
  • Must finish 13 spots better than Hamlin for lead


3. Kevin Harvick (5185 / -45)- Harvick was another person who was a favorite to get the crown but only appeared in the later stages of the races. A quiet, comfortable man closing in on a lap behind, and then bam, ends up with a top 5 finish. Normally, you only see this kind of strategy from guys like him in ‘Dega, but he obviously is making it work here in the mile-long tracks. As long as he doesn’t get into a big head mood that puts him a lap down, he can succeed here. He had a top 10 finish here last May, so there’s no excuse for him not making it work.

  • Finished 5th last week @ NHMS
  • 17.4 Average @ Dover
  • Finished 7th in spring race
  • Must finish 5 spots better than Bowyer and 16 spots better than Hamlin for lead


4. Kyle Busch (5168 / -62)- Busch was caught up in many ruffling moments but surprisingly kept his mouth relatively shut over the TV screens this week. Another giant leap for NASCAR’s most hated kind. I said it last week, Kyle is much more content than year’s past, and now we’re seeing it in him over these past two weeks. Ninth isn’t gonna cut it in a field this talented though. He’s the defending winner at this track, and it’ll take the sweep for him to be in this even more.

  • Finished 9th last week @ NHMS
  • 15.5 Average @ Dover
  • Won the spring race
  • Must finish 4 spots better than Harvick, 10 better than Bowyer, and 22 spots better than Hamlin for lead


5. Jeff Gordon (5155 / -75)- Jeff, like last year, is having a quiet but impressive run here in the chase. 75 points back isn’t the best spot to be in but hey, he’s still 5th right now. It’ll take more guts and determination to tame the cup beasts though. He needs the speed back, and unfortunately for Jeff, it’s not coming fast enough.

  • Finished 6th last week @ NHMS
  • 12.1 Average @ Dover
  • Finished 11th in spring race
  • Must finish 6 spots better than Busch, 11 better than Harvick, 15 better than Bowyer and 26 better than Hamlin for lead.


6. Kurt Busch (5144 / -86)- Kurt Busch has some added pressure now that Sports Illustrated has declared him the favorite to win. From what he had this week, I’m thinking that he’ll have to do better than 13th place and unwanted craziness you normally see from his younger brother to prove the writers of the magazine right. Busch, although very talented, has never really got a lot of success from Penske in these shorter tracks. He needs to be conservative in tracks like these, and become a fierce warrior in the tracks like Texas and Charlotte where he has proven to have the most success.

  • Finished 13th last week @ NHMS
  • 19.6 Average @ Dover
  • Finished 19th in spring race
  • Must finish 5 spots better than Gordon, 9 better than Busch, 15 better than Harvick, 18 better than Bowyer, and 30 better than Hamlin for lead.


7. Jimmie Johnson (5138 / -92)- Jimmie’s major troubles have now begun to bleed into the chase. Major damages to the car, pit lane miscues, it’s pretty clear that the team is in desperate made right now. He had a pit lane speeding penalty here last time around, and with his good luck on the track, he just needs to keep his poise to win here. Besides, this is like the Dallas Cowboys, Jimmie’s got plenty of tracks where he is excellent in to go and there is true talent in his pit stall. The last thing he needs is panic.

  • Finished 25th last week @ NHMS
  • 10.2 Average @ Dover
  • Finished 16th in spring race
  • Must finish 3 spots better than Ku. Busch, 7 better than Gordon, 11 better than Ky. Busch, 17 better than Harvick, 20 better than Bowyer, and 32 better than Hamlin for lead.


8. Carl Edwards (5135 / -95)- Carl might seem like he has the statistics on his side in this race, but the only reason why that is is because he simply has not had to take it to the garage as often as the rest of the chase drivers. Carl has stayed on his downward days of his career. Don’t count this guy out, but don’t raise his hand first, either.

  • Finished 11th last week @ NHMS
  • 7.9 Average @ Dover
  • Finished 8th in spring race
  • Must finish 2 spots better than Johnson, 4 better than Ku. Busch, 8 better than Gordon, 12 better than Ky. Busch, 18 spots better than Harvick, 21 better than Bowyer, and 33 better than Hamlin for lead.


9. Greg Biffle (5122 / -108)- Biffle is coming into this race with the luck on his side. He might not have the best points spot, but he has stayed on the lead lap here on every race held at Dover since 2006. It’s a pretty big feat to have, but that could very well help him with drivers trying a little too hard to take the checkered. Just don’t make the same mistakes you did this week to get you in this whole mess, ok?

  • Finished 17th last week @ NHMS
  • 10.5 Average @ Dover
  • Finished 6th in spring race


10. Jeff Burton (5118 / -112)- Jeff Burton was the guy everybody didn’t remember. I can see why now. Bad luck is everywhere, he hasn’t found the raw speed he needs, and Jeff is solely being too conservative. All he can hope for is that Childress and Crew could bring it to the house a couple of times before the sun sets on 2010. Until then, his drastic drop in momentum is coming to him quickly.

  • Finished 15th last week @ NHMS
  • 15.9 Average @ Dover
  • Finished 2nd in spring race


11. Tony Stewart (5106 / -124)- Tony was on a roll to make it 2 wins in 3 races. Only problem was that he forget to put the fuel in play, and now instead of up top, he has more negative momentum to sum up an off and on year for the 14 team. Truly I think he’s ready to rock, but the gun has already sounded off and karma has tripped him to his knees. Don’t panic, just get up, brush yourself off, and keep running.

  • Finished 24th last week @ NHMS
  • 11.4 Average @ Dover
  • Finished 9th in spring race


12. Matt Kenseth (5094 / -136)- Matt Kenseth is playing Brian Vickers. No surprise for me. Kenseth, for some strange reason, has simply lost his touch. With no momentum coming in, it’ll be hard to dig himself out of his ditch. My only hope for him really is Martinsville where he was a spin away from victory earlier in the year. Other than that, don’t count on him.

  • Finished 23rd last week @ NHMS
  • 12.7 Average @ Dover
  • Finished 3rd in spring race
                       Matt Kenseth