Last week at Kansas the Championship points standings tightened up further. Most notably five time Champion Jimmie Johnson has moved up within 4 points of the leader Carl Edwards. Seemingly, serving notice that he is back and will win the Championship again. Don’t start engraving the trophy just yet!
As I said previously two weeks ago, the winner will have a win or two, many top 10′s or perhaps top 5′s. Top or some might consider bottom 20′s or worse will be deadly, unless they get balanced with extra wins. For instance one win and a second has erased Jimmie’s 10th and 18th and put him back in. With the exception of Kevin Harvicks 12 placed finish, he and Carl Edwards have been the definition of consistency. That is why they are and have been atop the standings.
But what could happen to any one of our leaders is what happened to Jeff Gordon, the driver that many including myself was picked to win the Championship. By blowing an engine last week he gave up 28 points to the leaders. If that were to happen to Carl Edwards, Kevin Harvick or Jimmie Johnson this week they would easily drop to 8th in the standings. Unfortunately for Jeff he will need two wins and all top 5′s from this point forward to have a chance. A highly unlikely prospect.
The new point system awards one point for each position in reverse so if you win the race you get 43 points. If you come in last you get one. So the difference between winning and coming in 11th. is 10 points. Looking at it this way the top 5 drivers could easily swap positions even if they all are running in the top 10. The next two races at Charlotte and Talladega will be exciting to watch and I guarantee these guys will swap back and forth. Unless some sort of perfect storm collects the top 8 drivers in a wreak at Talladega and misses the other 4, Dale Earnhardt Jr, Jeff Gordon, Ryan Newman and Denny Hamlin will not win the Chase.
Race Results of Chase Contenders
Week 1 2 3 4 Points Back
Carl Edwards 4 8 3 5 Leader
Kevin Harvick 2 12 10 6 -1
Jimmie Johnson 10 18 2 1 -4
Brad Keselowski 5 2 20 3 -11
Matt Kenseth 21 6 5 4 -12
Kurt Busch 6 22 1 13 -16
Tony Stewart 1 1 25 15 -19
Kyle Busch 22 11 6 11 -20
Dale Earnhardt, Jr. 3 17 24 14 -43
Jeff Gordon 24 4 12 34 -47
Ryan Newman 8 25 23 18 -54
Denny Hamlin 31 29 18 16 -79