Thursday, August 30, 2012

A Hot Time In Hotlanta?

Who is going to burn Atlanta down?

Last week’s bombshell of a race at Bristol sure did bring out the best on the hostility front. Fan interest and viewership are up! Bruton must be smilin’ like the Cheshire Cat! (and so is race winner Denny Hamlin!)

So we march on to Atlanta once again with a group of drivers hoping to launch themselves into the glory of the Chase. There has been some shuffling among this group thanks to Bristol’s summer race on the revamped half mile concrete oval. Kyle Busch, on the strength of his 6th place finish and 38 points, coupled with Ryan Newman’s unfortunate wreck that sent his team home early with a 36th place finish and only 8 points, moved up to 13th place and into the lead for the final Chase opening. Although Kyle wasn’t credited with leading a single lap at Bristol, a track he has tamed many times, I’m thinkin’ he’s pleased with these results but the fact remains any of this group of six drivers with a shot at 12th place in the Chase can, just by virtue of a single win, either here in Atlanta or next week in Richmond, sew up the last seat at the dance.

Carl Edwards was oh so close to winning at Bristol after not stopping for fuel and tires on a caution with 85 laps to go. The strategy had him leading late in the race for 45 laps but alas (J) fresh tires and a splash was the way to go as Carl got passed then went dry. The 99 Ford team ended the night in 22nd place garnering only 23 points. Carl remains in 12th place without a win and a withering lead now only 5 points ahead of Kyle… Although I like them taking the risk late in the race and rolling the dice for another caution to pop up, the bottom line from this risky decision now equates to desperation time for the 99…

Jeff Gordon also elbowed his way past Newman to take over 14th place, 15 points behind JGR’s 18. Jeff, powered by his great HMS 24 team, put together a strong effort coming in 3rd at Bristol.

Now in 15th place, all is not lost for the SHR 39 even though Ryan Newman gave up a lot of ground on the point’s side at Bristol. All you Ryan Newman fans have to do is just revisit Al Davis’ favorite saying…

Marcos Ambrose also moved up with his 5th place Bristol finish adding 40 points to his total. Marcos is now in 16th place and really picking up the pace as we head into turn four. Suddenly he’s trailing Kyle Busch for the 12th place in the Chase by only 28 points! If he keeps the pressure on there’s no telling what might happen!

Joey Logano entered the Cup race at Bristol full of confidence after running off with the Nationwide win at Bristol race a day earlier and although he turned in a very good effort finishing in 8th place, he’s so far down on the point’s side that a win is all that will cure his ills. Joey continues to languish in 18th place not even within hailing distance of Paul Menard in 17th place.

Bring on Atlanta!

Here is a quick rundown on these 6 drivers and their experiences down in Peach Country by order of most successful to least over their last 10 races:

Driver------------------Wins---------------Top 5’s---------------Top 10’s-------------Average Finish
Jeff Gordon-------------1---------------------3------------------------7-------------------------8.1
Carl Edwards-----------1---------------------5------------------------7------------------------14.5
Kyle Busch--------------1---------------------3------------------------3------------------------16.9
Ryan Newman---------0---------------------0------------------------2------------------------19.6
Marcos Ambrose------0---------------------0------------------------1------------------------22.0
Joey Logano------------0---------------------0------------------------0------------------------26.7

This is the first track I’ve examined in this series of races leading up to the 2012 Sprint Cup Chase where Kyle Busch hasn’t had the best record going in. Is it any coincidence that Atlanta is yet another of Bruton Smith’s 1.5 mile cookie cutter tracks? And along those same lines, is it any wonder why Jeff Gordon does well here?

Will this be the race where one of this group of almost also-rans knocks it out of the park? Or will we have to march on to Richmond to finally set the Chase field…

My best case scenario? Have one of these drivers notch their second win at Atlanta, move on to Richmond, full of optimism as the heir apparent to the Chase and then have another driver with a higher point total knock them off the perch at the last possible moment! Now that would really get the juices flowing! It would certainly give us something to consider since I’m afraid the 10 race 2012 Chase will only seem anti-climactic after what happened last year.


  1. Nice rundown, D-Man!

    I like your scenario for the last two races.... just as long as it's Kyle winning Richmond and making the Chase!

  2. I went through set-up and hopefully removed the word deal to comment... Thanks Gene!

  3. I like for raceing and Thanks 4 great posting with us .