The Frontstretch: Four Burning Questions: Wild Cards and Rivalries by Summer Bedgood -- Friday August 31, 2012

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Four Burning Questions: Wild Cards and Rivalries

Summer Bedgood · Friday August 31, 2012


Is it realistic to think that a wild card hopeful will beat a championship contender this week in Atlanta?

Just look at the variety of drivers who could potentially snag a wild card spot with a win this weekend. While it wouldn’t necessarily be a lock, Atlanta will almost serve as a last ditch effort for drivers like Jeff Gordon and Carl Edwards. Sure Richmond is always there, but if Atlanta slips through their hands, a win at Richmond might not even be an option.

In actuality, Edwards and Gordon are probably thrilled that they’re racing in Atlanta this weekend judging by their statistics. With three wins for Edwards and five for Gordon in 14 and 38 races, respectively, it’s not at all unlikely that either of these drivers could find a victory and maybe get inside the Chase.

However, it’s not completely unlikely that Kyle Busch, the current holder of one of the two wild card spots, could win either. He’s won there before too and has a statement to make about his title hopes.

Then again, Tony Stewart, Jimmie Johnson, and Kasey Kahne have had success there too, so who is to say that the wild card drivers will even get a shot?

The bottom line is this: We don’t know what’s going to happen. With so much at stake this weekend, it might just do you some good to tune in.

Atlanta might hope to capitalize on a Stewart Kenseth rivalry, but chances are that started and ended at Bristol last week.

Does what happened between Tony Stewart and Matt Kenseth even matter?

In an appearance at Charlotte Motor Speedway this week, Stewart pretty much downplayed the little helmet throwing incident at Bristol. Essentially, it boiled down to heat of the moment. It was still all Kenseth’s fault, sure, but no reason to get crazy especially at this point in the season.

Many fans celebrated the incident as a return to good old fashioned short track racing with tempers flaring and helmets flying. Yet there really doesn’t feel like there is any substance to it. It’s not like this is the first time Stewart has ever lost his temper with anyone, and it certainly won’t be the last. However, these two drivers are champions of the sport for a reason. They know how to handle tough situations and, more importantly, they choose their battles wisely. Honestly, based on Stewart’s comments alone, it feels like this is one that won’t go any further than where the helmet landed in the Bristol pits.

Does Atlanta benefit from the Bristol mayhem?

Like it or not, Bristol got fans talking. And even if you claim to “hate” the racing at Bristol, you still enjoyed some of the excitement. If not, I can’t imagine you’ll really ever enjoy anything this sport has to offer anymore. Bristol had something for everyone, and if you hated the entire race, you’re doing nothing but looking for something to bitch about.

With that said, many fans are looking ahead to Atlanta. With a tight wild card battle, tensions are running high. Add in the fact that it’s a holiday weekend, and there is an air of excitement surrounding the race.

Bristol’s ratings were way up last weekend, and I would imagine that the drama in Bristol would be enough for that to carry over to a Sunday night race in Atlanta. Now if we can get the excitement to transfer over as well, we’ll be good to go.

Could fuel mileage help determine the Chase field?

Jeff Gordon, Carl Edwards, and Kyle Busch have all shown that they are willing to take risks in the races in order to put themselves in a better spot to make (or stay in) the Chase. We saw it last week with Edwards and I bet you he’d be more than willing to do it again if it meant he could get that coveted trophy.

With that said mile-and-a-half racetracks tend to bring out the gamblers in full force. An untimely caution that flies just laps within a fuel run will have pit road calculators smoking.

Don’t forget that it’s not just wild card drivers who are going to want to take some calculated risks. Those who are locked safely into the Chase have nothing to lose and bonus points on the line when the Chase resets after Richmond. Why not try something new?

Seriously, tune into Atlanta. The potential alone should be enough motivation.

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©2000 - 2008 Summer Bedgood and Thanks for visiting the Frontstretch!

09/03/2012 06:20 PM

OK, dusting off the old FS moniker and making a comeback years later.

Did Jeff Gordon lose his best chance and blow the chrome horn (bumpers fully locked like a plate race 2 car tandem, non-teamates situation), slight half car slide left (at about 1 hundred miles an hr., slightly Bristol speed on a mile & a half track, G-W-C- Restart), he should have taken?

I think so, and I think he can kiss the 2012 Chase goodbye now. It is rare that the planets ALL line up like that for anyone, much less “Unlucky-but-Great” JG this year. Chances lost are chances never recovered.

Denny Hamlin would have taken that chance as presented without fail. “The fire in the belly is out.” JG, enjoy the family Bro….A great 4 time Champion, winner of 85 great races.

Hang it up, before you get hurt. thanks for the great times. They WERE GREAT. we’ll all miss you and your 24. Still a 1-in-43 chance @ Richmond, only real (and magic believing), JG 24 Fans can still have any hope.