Tuesday, September 4, 2012

It's Richmond or Bust!

One last race to set the Chase field and it’s been like a game of “Hot Potato” while a small group of drivers vie for the 12th and final spot. Nobody wants it! Will someone win the spot by default?
Just one little bump...
Atlanta had a potential Chaser come right down to the wire only to have his chance at the gold ring ripped out of his grasp. Jeff Gordon has been left wondering if he’s become too soft in the latter part of his racing career after not going the “bump and run” route on eventual race winner Denny Hamlin. Hamlin’s win, preventing Gordon from getting to victory lane, worked to keep his teammate Kyle Busch in the final Chase position thanks to his point total. (see http://www.thatsracin.com/2012/09/03/93843/jeff-gordon-wonders-if-hes-getting.html)

Believe it or not, there are actually 6 other drivers besides Kyle who can wind up in the cherished final Chase position.

The least likely of this group to get in is Paul Menard and without going through all the necessary things that must happen I’ll just say it’s like a snowball’s chance… A win and some horrendous finishes by top drivers is all that can make Paul’s day a happy one…

Dinner at SB's house...
What the???
Poor Carl Edwards has enough on his plate just dealing with the 42 other drivers and teams he faces each week, but Beagle Voodoo is like the final straw. Going into Atlanta Carl was very optimistic with his chances to win on a track where his had past success. He told more than one interviewer he expected to win and assume the 12th Chase position. What happened? That darned Beagle played in and blew up Carl’s engine! Carl still has a long shot at the Chase but does anyone really want to bet on him? Somebody (Kristen? Sal? Gene? Phil?) needs to corner Cousin Carl, tell him what has been going on, give him the Speed Beagle’s phone number and tell him to formally apologize and not to allow this to continue! Like Paul Menard, Carl must win and have terrible finishes from drivers who don’t normally go that route in order to make the Chase.

And the beat goes on with the one-win drivers… If Joey Logano, Marcos Ambrose, Ryan Newman, Jeff Gordon or Kyle Busch win in Richmond they’re in… Simple, right?

Here’s the rundown on these five drivers’ results across the last 10 races at Richmond:

Driver------------------Wins---------------Top 5’s---------------Top 10’s-------------Average Finish

Kyle Busch--------------4---------------------7------------------------8-------------------------5.4
Jeff Gordon-------------0---------------------4------------------------7------------------------11.1
Ryan Newman---------0---------------------1------------------------5------------------------12.6
Marcos Ambrose------0---------------------1------------------------2------------------------16.1
Joey Logano------------0---------------------1------------------------1------------------------17.6

Here’s how these five drivers were ranked and performed in the previous four races in this series:

Driver------------------Rank--W G--Rank--Mich--Rank--Bristol--Rank—Atlanta—Ave. Finish

Kyle Busch--------------1-------7------1--------13-----1-------6--------2---------6-----------8
Ryan Newman---------2------11-----3---------28-----2------36-------3--------35---------27.5
Jeff Gordon-------------3------21-----2----------8-----3--------3-------1---------2----------8.5
Joey Logano------------4------32-----4---------31-----5-------8-------5---------18--------22.3
Marcos Ambrose------*-------1-----5-----------5-----4-------5-------4---------17---------7 (!)

*Marcos was winless going into Watkins Glen and not ranked but just look at who has out-performed the others in terms of average finish through this four race period leading up to Richmond.
It's not impossible...
Considering what has occurred over the course of the previous four races will any of the original group of four drivers step up? For the fourth time in the five races analyzed Kyle Busch stands most likely to win as the only driver to win at Richmond in the last 10 races and he’s done it four times! His average finish is less than half that of the next best driver… Jeff Gordon has to be characterized as the hottest driver in the group with a second and third place finish in Atlanta and Bristol respectively. Marcos fell off of his hot pace at Atlanta finishing seventeenth but he seems to perform well on short tracks. Then there’s Ryan Newman and Joey Logano who have  both been thrashing to get to this point. I’ll drag out what has become a broken record to this point in time and say it again… “Just win baby!” It will cure what ails any of these five.

Here are the current odds to win at Richmond next weekend among this group from http://www.thespread.com/nascar-articles/090412-2012-nascar-odds-federated-auto-parts-400-hamlin-a-busch-favored : Kyle Busch 9/2, Jeff Gordon 8/1, Ryan Newman 50/1, Joey Logano 60/1 and Marcos Ambrose 100/1. If I had to bet right now I think I’d take the long odds and throw down on our Australian brother, Marcos Ambrose!

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