The very first race of the ten race Chase for the Championship is just that, only the first race. As always happens when you group 12 drivers within 60 points of each other, there will be big swings in the points after the very first race.
After Sunday?s race in Loudon, New Hampshire, only three of the twelve Chase drivers advanced their position in the points. Carl Edwards moved up one place to 8th, and Jeff Gordon moved up three spots to 5th. Clint Bowyer, as result of winning the Sylvania 300, made the biggest gain jumping ten spots and now sits in second place.
Four drivers, Jeff Burton, Kyle Busch, Kevin Harvick, and point leader Denny Hamlin all stayed where they were. While the remaining five lost ground. Tony Stewart and Jimmie Johnson each lost the most, five spots, Greg Biffle lost two, while Kurt Busch and Matt Kenseth each dropped one place.
And all of the above means nothing.
There are still nine more races to go before anything is decided and a lot can happen in nine races. Especially when two of those races, Martinsville and Talladega, are on consecutive weekends. Quite literally anything can happen at those two tracks. That?s why they?ve earned the nickname ?wild card tracks?.
Tony Stewart was the last person to win a NASCAR Sprint Cup Championship who was not named Johnson. In that year (2005) not only did Stewart not win a single Chase race, but in three of the ten races he finished outside the top ten, the worst being 25th at Charlotte. This week Stewart was 24th.
At Loudon yesterday Johnson finished 25th, one lap down. In 2006, the year he won the first of his four consecutive championships so far, he finished 39th and was 139 points behind the leader. Right now Johnson is ?only? 92 points back.
It?s still anybody?s chase.
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