Boy. is this shaping to be one heck of a Chase! The media have been trying to generate some sort of rivalry between Carl Edwards and Kyle Busch for weeks, but this week that media-generated rivalry finally came to fruition. Neither driver backed up on post-race opinions of how clean Edwards’s pass of Busch was for the win, and it appears that the feud could carry over to California this week.
While Edwards and Busch seem to be the two dominant teams this season, there are other teams fighting to make the Chase and the Top 35. To see who is on the verge of breaking into the win column and who could simply go for a solid finish, check out this week’s edition of Who’s Hot/Who’s Not in Sprint Cup.
In a League of Their Own
Edwards: Last week in this column, I mentioned there may be something to the Edwards/Busch rivalry, but that the two dominant drivers weren’t necessarily enemies… until now. Edwards’s classic short track bump-and-run for the victory, and the post-race altercation with Busch afterwards, has provided the media with interesting sound bites and the sport with infinitely more exposure heading into the Chase.
Edwards has officially surpassed Busch as the hottest driver in the series right now, racking up back-to-back victories heading to Fontana, a track where he has already won this season.
Busch: At this point of the season, second-place finishes mean absolutely nothing for Busch who is already locked into the Chase. Busch’s inability to pull out a win in each of the past two weeks has benefited Edwards, who has narrowed his points deficit from 50 points to 30 when the Chase begins. It’s nice to see Busch continuing to run strong, but Edwards is the one recording wins right now.
Kevin Harvick: The third hottest driver over the past month, and a driver certainly in the shadow of Busch and Edwards, Harvick’s fourth-place finish this weekend at Bristol was his fourth consecutive top 10. One month ago the No. 29 team was 13th in points, this week they sit eighth.
Tony Stewart: His eighth-place finish this weekend was his third top 10 in the last four races, plus he has four straight top-12 finishes.
Matt Kenseth: Kenseth has four straight top-12 finishes and back-to-back top 10s.
David Ragan: Ragan posted three top 10s in the last four races and five top 10s over the last seven. It’s these steady finishes that have Ragan sitting just 12 points out of the Chase.
Jamie McMurray: Fans have long considered McMurray as the fifth driver at Roush Fenway Racing. But while the No. 26 team has struggled for much of the season, solid finishes are starting to add up. A sixth-place finish at the Brickyard in August was the start of a stretch of races that has seen McMurray record four top-12 finishes in his last four races.
Greg Biffle: Worst finish in last five oval races is 13th and he has scored three top 10s in that stretch.
Kasey Kahne: Two races ago Kahne sat eighth in points, but engine problems last week at Michigan and an accident this week (both 40th-place finishes) have dropped the No. 9 team to 14th in points. Prior to his two hiccups, Kahne had recorded five consecutive top 15s, but with just two races remaining until the Chase and 56 points keeping him out of the top 12, this week will be a critical week for the No. 9 team.
Dave Blaney: Best finish in last five races is 31st including three consecutive DNFs.