Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Sprint Cup 2010: Race 24: Bristol Saturday Night Madness

“Saturday Night’s Alright for Fighting” and the Sprint Cup boys hit Thunder Valley Saturday night in a race that is one of this writer’s favorite events of the year. Five hundred laps on a high banked half mile track with 160,000 fans looking on with but three races left before the field for The Chase is decided makes for some of the most intense, exciting racing of the year.

Could this be a breakthrough race for Roush/Fenway?

History says it could be. They won four out the last five events, but not last year when Kyle Busch took the honors. Carl Edwards won in 2007 and 2008. Matt Kenseth won in 2005 and 2006. Kyle Busch has two second place finishes (2008, 2006) to go along with his win. Kyle is the only driver with more than two top fives in that period. Does that tell something?

The fight for The Chase is down to this. We can pretty much rest assured drivers in 9th to 11th are in having more than a 200 point margin over 13th place. However, Clint Bowyer only has a 35 point advantage over Mark Martin, 103 point advantage over Ryan Newman (and Joey Logano was wondering why he was racing so rough!?!?!?), 105 points over Jamie McMurray, 126 over Kasey Kahne, and Dale Earnhardt Jr. fans will cling to hopes that Junior is 129 points away. Everyone else knows Earnhardt’s chances are futile, but looking at his margin out compared to Kurt Busch’s and Greg Biffle’s margin in, shows clearly but one spot is truly open in the top 12.

Time is running short for chase contenders to get bonus points for their Chase standings for wins: Jimmie Johnson and Denny Hamlin have 5 wins; Kevin Harvick has 3; The Busch brothers each have 2 wins; beyond that, Greg Biffle has only one win. Jeff Gordon in 2nd place in the standings has zero wins. Carl Edwards, Tony Stewart, Jeff Burton, Matt Kenseth, and Clint Bowyer have no wins. Five victories reside outside the Chase field including the two big ones from Jamie McMurray. Interestingly, Jimmie Johnson is the only driver in the top 12 who does not have at least one top five in the summer Busch race. For those thinking Johnson’s season has fallen to pieces, he is currently in 5th but will elevate to the top when the chase field is determined. He’s only six points behind Stewart in 4th place and 43 points behind Denny Hamlin in 3rd. His ability to run for a 5th consecutive championship remains EXCELLENT with perhaps Kevin Harvick his toughest rival.

Here’s to a great race Saturday night. Let’s have at it boys. “Saturday night is alright for fighting!”

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