Chase Scenarios for Chase Race 8
By Peter Carcia
TheRacingExperts.com Lead Reporter
As promised, Talladega was home to some huge surprises. We saw the first upside down car since we swapped to the spoiler, 41 drivers did not start and park, and it was Clint Bowyer who got the disputed win.
Now, we head to a key race in the chase. With this race being the final D-shaped intermediate tracked race, it’s do or die time for the drivers that are not in the mix. With fourth being 200+ points behind however, you can tell that there are only three still that remain in the championship hopefuls, and with the way Talladega ended up, I really mean three. We’ve never seen anything like this coming into Texas Motor Speedway. Last year, all eyes were on the garage as Jimmie Johnson’s easy 2009 championship drove into a major road block. This year however, the tables have turned. Instead of bring conservative to keep the numbers high, it is coming full speed and getting out a driver’s bag of tricks to eek out the victory not only here, but in the chase as a whole. Now there is one thing the guys just barely behind the lead is thinking about: how do you get the little extra in these three races that dethrones the future hall of fame inductee? Three drivers, one champion; the final stretch is on.
1.) Jimmie Johnson (6149 / Lead) Jimmie was anything but the quiet he was last year at that point. He was earlier in his chance to win, and ended up in just the right place to keep himself on top. We all know the story that happened a year ago this week, but this man knows how not to make the same mistake twice. We have a very good chase on our hands, but we are all forgetting who has the edge; this man right here. Hamlin and Harvick have basically been chasing him for the entire chase, and it is imperative that Johnson does not stay at the level he was last year. We’ve seen Johnson win in some of the places where we don’t often see him in victory lane this year, with victories in places like Loudon, Sonoma , and Las Vegas , and this time around is no exception. He had bad happenings last year, now, Chad and the gang is out to prove that that day was a mere fluke. Oh, and one other thing, I’d advise you don’t get near Sam Hornish Jr.
- Finished 7th @ Talladega
- 11.80 Average finish in Texas since February 2008 (Spring 2nd, 2nd, 2nd, Fall 15th, 38th)
- Ranked 7th among active drivers
- 10.14 Career average in Texas (Ranked 3rd among active drivers)
2.) Denny Hamlin (6135 / -14) The rains were everywhere last time around, but it didn’t seem to bother Hamlin. With Jimmie Johnson chasing him fast, it was up to him to show the world he wasn’t afraid. Hamlin ended up winning the event. This was one of the races where Johnson said that if they had a few more laps, it would have gone to him. This track is far from easy to sweep in one year, but with some strong drivers in a heap of bad momentum, it could be easier than before. Hamlin is ready to do battle with anybody that can come his way, but he is in a situation that was where Johnson was last year. Obviously, this thought doesn’t show in the points, but the fans are on his side, believing that he now has what it takes to go all the way, which was just the thought that was given last year to the point leader, until here. Hamlin, you can not lose your cool out here in Texas . Do not have that thought that you can start bad and gradually come up to the finish first. There are way too many people that can screw up here and get you into a wreck that you don’t want to be in. Start up front, and then stay conservative. Just make sure that you don’t get in the way of the drivers in the most trouble.
- Finished 9th @ Talladega
- 7.40 Average finish in Texas since February 2008 (Spring 5th, 12th, 1st, Fall 17th, 2nd)
- Ranked 2nd among active drivers
- 9.60 Career average in Texas (Ranked 1st among active drivers)
- Must finish 6 spots better than Johnson to take lead
3.) Kevin Harvick (6111 / -38) Normally when people think about a Jimmie Johnson infested chase campaign, you don’t often hear the advice of just to get the deficit down chunk by chunk until Homestead, but when you look at Kevin Harvick, he started off rough, and that piece of advice is exactly what he is doing, and in a good way. He finished better than Johnson in the majority of the races he hasn’t won, and now we go to another race where he created a league leading 22 top tens. Look at the finishes below, he’s had his best runs in the fall of the COT era. Look at Johnson’s, his worst were in the fall races. The dark horse of 2010 looks like he has the averages on his side, and I would advise that he did the same race tactic I have asked Hamlin to do if he is looking for a win. Who knows? The three men battling in the points could be the three men battling for the win this week.
- Finished 2nd @ Talladega
- 11.40 Average finish in Texas since February 2008 (Spring 11th, 27th, 7th, Fall 7th, 5th)
- Ranked 6th among active drivers
- 12.87 Career average in Texas (Ranked 5th among active drivers)
- Must finish 9 spots better than Hamlin and 14 spots better than Johnson to take lead
Only two races are left after we pack up for Texas . First, the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series goes to Phoenix for the final short track. After that, it’s the well acclaimed race in Homestead-Miami Speedway where we crown the champion. Until these are the hot spots to victory, however, I’ll see you on the track.