Average 350 points, you are driving like a champion. Average 300 points, and you look like a contender. Too bad three of our Chasers are presently driving like mere pretenders, but enough about Kurt Busch, Dale Earnhardt Jr, and Denny Hamlin. Over the past ten events, we have five who have that championship look about them, and it should come as no surprise that they represent five of the top six in the official standings as we head on to Talladega for Sunday.
[media-credit name=”David Yeazell” align=”alignright” width=”225″][/media-credit]Tony Stewart is the one missing. While the results from Watkins Glen and Bristol, where he finished outside the Top 25, did not help, neither did that finish at Dover. What the two-time champion needs is a string of Top Fives, starting this weekend. Then again, you might say that for everybody interested in claiming the crown and still with a chance to grab it.
That is especially true for our leader. Brad Keselowski might have more than a 20 point bulge over the course of recent events, but he now has to match what he did in Watkins Glen (2nd), Michigan (3rd), Bristol (1st), Atlanta (6th), and Richmond (12th) to maintain that pace. It is a tall order, but one worthy of a champion.
Here are our hot 20 over the past 10 events…
1. Brad Keselowski – 380 pts – (1-6-7)
Can win at Talladega, and make cars fly.
2. Carl Edwards – 358 pts – (0-6-8)
Thanks to Brad, he has yet to win there, but has managed to be anywhere from 5th to 42nd.
3. Kyle Busch – 354 pts – (1-3-5)
If he is to be the next Jimmie Johnson he is going to have to start working on that beard.
4. Kevin Harvick – 353 pts – (1-2-7)
Can be very hot in Alabama…or very cold. Will current three race hot streak there continue?
5. Matt Kenseth – 352 pts – (1-3-7)
Six Top Tens at Talladega, 9 times outside Top Twenty in 23 attempts.
6. Jimmie Johnson – 341 pts – (1-5-7)
Will be in good shape if he goes great on Sunday, and a few certain others do not.
7. Jeff Gordon – 332 pts – (1-4-5)
Will the new Jeff Gordon Expressway be a 190 mph loop?
8. Tony Stewart – 325 pts – (2-3-6)
Already has two Chase wins, but might need a couple more.
9. Ryan Newman – 303 pts – (0-1-5)
Best year was 2003, but 8 win, 17 Top Five season still only meant 6th in the standings.
10. A.J. Allmendinger – 303 pts – (0-0-4)
The Petty brand has some meaning again.
11. Kurt Busch – 295 pts – (1-3-4)
Addington is subtracting himself.
12. Marcos Ambrose – 292 pts – (1-2-5)
Looking to finally be in the right spot at the right time on the weekend.
13. Kasey Kahne – 290 pts – (0-3-4)
Could have been racing at Las Vegas last week, but Mr. Childress said no.
14. Dale Earnhardt Jr – 283 pts – (0-1-1)
Is there hope? Sure, but what are the odds an early 11 car wreck will involve 11 specific drivers?
15. Juan Pablo Montoya – 280 pts – (0-0-2)
In 1999 won seven, but that was to capture the CART crown
16. Jeff Burton – 280 pts – (0-0-1)
18 full-time seasons in, and still among those who matter.
17. David Ragan – 273 pts – (0-1-2)
With time running out, getting hot here would sure help to remain in Cup seat for 2012.
18. Brian Vickers – 272 pts – (0-1-1)
Won Nationwide (Busch) title back in 2003. Must he go back?
19. Clint Bowyer – 268 pts – (0-0-4)
From RCR to MWR…60 miles into the unknown.
20. Greg Biffle – 259 pts – (0-1-2)
If not for cut tires, messed up air hose connections, and lug nuts, he might be having a hell of a season.
23. Denny Hamlin – 243 pts – (0-0-4)
The good news? Well, the pressure is sure off.