Saturday, August 25, 2012

Sprint Cup 2012: Race 24 -- The Great Saturday Night Brawl

Rain washed out qualifying in Bristol setting the field based on round one practice, one that truly throws the starting lineup into chaos where some of the top contenders are fielded toward the bottom of the pack.

The focus is clearly on the drivers who are in the top ten in points with a chance of falling out; those with one win contending for the last wild card spot, and finally, those, well really Carl Edwards, with no wins and outside of the top ten in points attempting to make the chase.

Kevin Harvick, if faced with a catastrophic accident, particularly early in a race before the “start and park” freeloaders clear the track could fall out of the chase standings with no wins and only a forty-five point hold on his place in “The Chase.”

Carl Edwards is more than a race worth of points from the top ten, sitting in 12th place, he must win to get in.

Kasey Kahne with two wins currently has the first wild card position locked in. The remaining drivers have one win, led by Ryan Newman who currently holds the second wild card position. The following drivers must either win one of the next three races or exceed Newman in points: Kyle Busch, 9 points behind Newman; Jeff Gordon, 30 points behind Newman; Marcos Ambrose, 51 points behind Newman, and Joey Logano, a whopping 80 points behind Newman.

The goal is clear – winning is the ticket to post season, Chase racing, with three races to go, tonight’s short track wham-bam slam in Bristol and then Atlanta and Richmond. Of the drivers in the fight, Kyle Busch perhaps looks best suited to answer the call based on his style of racing and performance at the remaining tracks.

Ironically, the way first round practice took shape, most of these contenders are near the top of the qualifying order starting the race with good track position and having the best pick of pits for tomorrow night’s action. Joey Logano starts 4th; Marcos Ambrose starts 9th; Kyle Busch starts 10th, and Jeff Gordon starts 11th. This puts the pressure on Ryan Newman in 19th while giving Carl Edwards a good spanking in 27th.  Kevin Harvick and Ryan Newman line up 12th and 13th.

Of interest is surely the driver who starts dead last, Danica Patrick. She starts her fourth Sprint Cup race, her first since Charlotte, buttressed with a brilliant top 10 finish in her Nationwide performance. Who cannot think that Tony Stewart is some kind of sadist in his schedule for Patrick in the waning stretch of the 2012 season? Clearly, she has one goal for her 2nd race, simply to be on the track at the end. She’ll almost certainly finish well above dead last with the number of “start and park” entries so we’ll count her success in terms of every position above the last “quit and sit” fraudulent entry.

No cars failed to make the field as only 43 cars are entered in tonight's race. Results are on the basis of first round practice.

113Casey MearsFordGEICO
22Brad KeselowskiDodgeMiller Lite
316Greg BiffleFord3M / Bondo
420Joey LoganoToyotaDollar General
543Aric AlmirolaFordGoody's Headache Powders
631Jeff BurtonChevroletCaterpillar
727Paul MenardChevroletMenards / Schrock
811Denny HamlinToyotaFedEx Ground
99Marcos AmbroseFordDEWALT
1018Kyle BuschToyotaM&M's
1124Jeff GordonChevroletFarmVille / Drive to End Hunger
1329Kevin HarvickChevroletRheem
1478Regan SmithChevroletFurniture Row / Farm American
1556Martin Truex Jr.ToyotaNAPA Auto Parts
1688Dale Earnhardt Jr.ChevroletDiet Mountain Dew / National Guard
1717Matt KensethFordValvoline NextGen
1838David GillilandFordTaco Bell
1939Ryan NewmanChevroletOutback Steak House
2051Kurt BuschChevroletPhoenix Construction
2114Tony StewartChevroletMobil 1 / Office Depot
2255Brian VickersToyotaMy Classic Garage
2315Clint BowyerToyota5-hour Energy
2434David RaganFordGlory Foods
2536Dave BlaneyChevroletSealWrap
261Jamie McMurrayChevroletBass Pro Shops / Allstate
2799Carl EdwardsFordFastenal
2842Juan MontoyaChevroletTarget
2922Sam Hornish Jr.DodgeShell / Pennzoil
3098Michael McDowellFordK-Love / Curb Records
3130David StremmeToyotaInception Motorsports
3226Josh Wise*FordMDS Transport
3383Landon CassillToyotaBurger King / Dr Pepper
34119Mike BlissToyotaPlinker Tactical
3523Scott RiggsChevroletNorth Texas Pipe
3647Bobby LabonteToyotaBush's Baked Beans
3733Stephen Leicht*ChevroletLittle Joes
3748Jimmie JohnsonChevroletLowe's Dover White
39249Jason LefflerToyotaAmerica Israel Racing
4087Joe NemechekToyotaAM-FM En Wood & Pellet Stoves 
4193Travis KvapilToyotaBurger King / Dr Pepper
42195Scott SpeedFordJTS
4232Ken SchraderFordFederated Auto Parts

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