For some, the racing at Bristol Saturday night was the best it has been in years. For others, it was a Bristol race in name only, with no fireworks and little excitement. But no matter which side of the fence you are on, there were plenty of winners and losers coming out of the annual madhouse that is Thunder Valley in late summer. Carl Edwards added another 10 bonus points to his Chase count, and should get extra points for sticking the backflip on Bristol’s high banks after his second win of the season. On the flip side, Denny Hamlin’s fried engine left him with just his second career DNF. In between, what could have been a big night for a points shakeup amongst the Chasers instead never materialized, with no driver falling out of, or moving into, the playoffs.
Jeff Gordon – Gordon has won five Cup races at Bristol, but only one of those wins was in the August Night Race. Still, with 18 top-10 finishes in 29 starts here, Gordon figures to be a factor Saturday night.
Jeff Gordon – Gordon has two wins at Michigan, with the most recent triumph coming in 2001. Overall, he has 20 top-10 finishes in 29 Cup starts in the Irish Hills, with an average finish of 10th… not too shabby.
The series heads to Michigan this weekend for the second of the series’ two visits on the year – and hopefully, your fantasy team is scorching like the late summer heat. Just four races remain until the end of the regular season, and just like the excitement surrounding the Chase, the battle in many leagues is at a fever pitch. Are you in Kurt Busch’s shoes, holding on to a tenuous lead while others battle to knock you down from a spot in the money? Or are you like Dale Earnhardt Jr., a driver in need of some solid finishes – and more importantly, luck – to work your way back into contention?
Jeff Gordon – Gordon is one of the better NASCAR road racers. While he has four wins at the Glen, oddly enough he hasn’t had a top-10 finish here in five races – he’s finished outside the top 20 in three of those events. But don’t be fooled; Gordon also has five wins at Sonoma, and could easily break out of his road-race slump here.
Unless you’re a glutton for punishment, Kurt Busch, or one of Kurt Busch’s fans (yes – he actually does have some), then you probably found Sunday’s Pennsylvania 500 at Pocono a real snoozefest. Busch started from second position, alongside Dale Earnhardt Jr., but didn’t stay there long; he made a mockery out of the race, leading 175 laps en route to his first win of the year and a spot inside the top 12 in points. Unlike recent weeks, there weren’t any potential Chasers that ran into major trouble on Sunday; the 14 main contenders all finished in the top 17 positions, making the race for the Chase more competitive than ever with just five races remaining.
It’s been an interesting summer for a race fan. The world tilted on its axis when Dale Earnhardt Jr. announced he was leaving Dale Earnhardt Incorporated and practically jumped out of orbit and headed for the Sun when he announced he was going to Hendrick Motorsports; a decision that for many fans was akin to Luke Skywalker saying, “Sure, Darth-I mean Dad, I’ll join the dark side. The good guys aren’t really much fun.” In some respects the point standings look like they did 10 years ago, with Jeff Gordon running away with the lead. The cast of characters in the rest of the top 10 has changed significantly-only Jeff Burton was even in the Nextel Cup Series then.
Jeff Gordon – Gordon won here in June to score his first Pocono victory since his 1998 “dream season.” It was his fourth win and 20th top-10 result at this track in just 29 starts.
Jeff Gordon – Gordon has won a track record four Brickyard 400s, including the inaugural event in 1994. He’s also managed 10 top-10 finishes here in 13 starts. The Indiana transplant is hugely popular with the fans in Indy, as well.
After a one-week breather, Nextel Cup racing resumes this week with just seven races remaining until the end of the regular season. Heading into that final stretch, who among the top 12 is the most vulnerable to drop out and why? And if someone does fall out, who slips in their place?