If he works for Roush Racing, he’s likely in a serious problem. Of the Roushketeers, who had been so dominant in 2005, the best driving force certain to make the Chase is Matt Kenseth, who just rattled off two instantly wins and this week is returning to the track where he gained his first race of ’06 (Fontana). Mark Martin is striking directly to 10th place by means of his fingernails and will lose out. Greg Biffle and Carl Edwards are darkish horses at first-rate, and Jamie McMurray is nowhere to be observed. Meanwhile Kasey Kahne, certainly the item of many women’ affections, is idling androgynously in 11th location. Those three men — Kahne, Biffle, and Edwards — are the only 3 drivers currently out of doors the top 10 who are not mathematically removed from the Chase. But a whole mess of drivers currently inside the top 10 could drop out with two terrible races over these next weekends. I’m going to say that Jimmie Johnson, Kenseth (who’ve clinched their slots) and Kevin Harvick (who has an 80-factor hole on the fourth place) are secure. Let’s test the alternative opportunities:
Kyle Busch: Currently: 4th location, 402 factors back. Busch has a career victory at Fontana and is excellent at the 2-milers in general. And whilst he hasn’t gained at Richmond, he is never finished outdoor the pinnacle 5 there, both. He’s as close to a lock as you may get. Verdict: IN.
Jeff Gordon: Currently: fifth vicinity, 408 points back. You in no way quite realize what you’re going to get from Jeffy Jeff, but he looked absolutely excellent on the Michigan two-miler simply weeks ago, completing 2d. That approach he’s going to in all likelihood have a good piece this weekend, and he might also want it because he is completed thirtieth or worse within the closing three Richmond events, which include a 40th this summer. Contend for the win this week, and the stress is off subsequent. Verdict: IN.
Denny Hamlin: Currently: 6th place, 429 factors returned. The Rookie of the Year has been incredible on the 2-miles (a 9th and two 12ths this year), and completed 2d in his first Nextel Cup race at Richmond. Anything can appear, however, I think Hamlin’s extraordinarily safe. Verdict: IN.
Jeff Burton: Currently: seventh place, 435 points lower back. Burton is a testimony to the fact that fortunes change speedily in Nextel Cup. Burton changed into a lock for the Chase as recently as some weeks in the past, but a popped engine at Michigan despatched him hurtling down the ranks. He led a ton of laps final weekend at Bristol but while push came to shove, he faded and finished 9th. The blown engine inside the Irish Hills may also have been the quality thing to happen to this group because it made them paintings even harder on this weekend’s automobile. The RCR Chevys have been extraordinary at downforce tracks this year, so I’d anticipate Burton to post a pinnacle-10 and stop a lot of questions. He’s passable at Richmond, although I wouldn’t expect him to win. Verdict: IN.
Tony Stewart: Currently: the eighth region, 443 factors returned. The protecting Series champ had published 4 straight pinnacle-10s to recover from a midseason swoon, however, he went out like a lamb at Bristol ultimate Saturday, coming 22nd after qualifying fifth. Stewart possibly had the second-first-class vehicle at Fontana way returned in February, however, blew an engine, so that is a little frightening, but his flat-song genius will serve him nicely at Richmond subsequent week, wherein he is published three consecutive top-seven finishes. Verdict: IN.
Dale Earnhardt Jr.: Currently: ninth area, 448 factors returned. Considering how properly he ran on this season’s Michigan races, and the reality that he gained the Richmond spring race, that is a no-brainer. Verdict: IN.
Mark Martin: Currently: 10th region, 450 factors again. I assume Martin could be in trouble. It’s a disgrace because he is been well consistent this season, however starting in early June he hit a patch that noticed him fail to top 13th vicinity in five consecutive occasions. Lately, it is been one-race-on, one-race-off for Martin, and his twenty eighths at Bristol closing week changed into a killer. He’s were given a ninety-factor bulge on Kahne, a 251-point lead over Biffle and a 261-factor gap on Edwards. He’s a totally, very regular two-miler driver, and I’d count on to see him play it very conservatively and strive to finish round 10th location this week. But he is had a few bad Richmond races over the past few years, and even as he is as easy as they get, a guy who’s at the back of him can rip off two superb activities and topple this apple cart. Verdict: OUT.
Kasey Kahne: Currently: eleventh region, 540 factors lower back. Kahne virtually stored himself with the aid of finished 12th at Bristol; it is no longer considered one of his quality tracks, and the truth that he should get forty-eight factors on Martin was large. Now I’d have to say Kahne is a favorite to beat Martin in every of the subsequent two occasions; he completed fourth (to Martin’s ninth) in advance this 12 months at California, and published his first career win at Richmond in ’05 (although he did have engine problems and finished 4 laps down there this 12 months). If a person’s going to do it, this is going to be the fellow. I think he’s going to do it. Verdict: IN.
Greg Biffle: Currently: twelfth area, 701 points returned. Biffle is outstanding at Fontana and Richmond; he had the pleasant vehicle in the field right here returned in February however had his engine pop, and he is got 4 consecutive Richmond finishes of eighth or higher. But this can certainly be too a long way to come back. He can win both of these races, and if the guys do not ruin proper in the front of him, he’ll still pass over the chase. Bummer. Verdict: OUT.
Carl Edwards: Currently: the thirteenth location, 711 points returned. Edwards is similarly outstanding at the 2-miles (what Roush car is not? Placed your hand down McMurray) but is not as fab at Richmond. I do not suppose he’s got a threat. Verdict: OUT.
Last Week: I didn’t get to observe it, but the Saturday night time race at Bristol changed into properly to me yet again, perhaps because I pimp it so mercilessly. I had Matt Kenseth as the winner, and I additionally took Kenseth in a head-to-head matchup. That way for the week, we profited 1.41 units (at the same time as putting 1.Five gadgets at danger each week); for the season, we have had worthwhile weeks 70% of the time, such as seven of the last 8, and we’ve profited a total of sixteen.01 units.
Note: The following odds are initial; I’ll exchange ’em before the race comes on Sunday while the net bookmakers put up their boards. I’ll additionally make a head-to-head pick out for the week when the ones odds are online.
Take Matt Kenseth (+seven-hundred), 1/6th unit. Is it possible that Milwaukee Matt wins a third directly Nextel Cup event? Hell, no. But can he? Hell, sure. He has been notable at this tune type during the last several seasons: his common end at Michigan considering 2002 is a superb 6.1, and he is come seventh and first in his last two Fontana activities. Kenseth can go balls-out because he’s already clinched his spot within the Chase, and there may be no motive to suppose that this exceedingly clean driving force won’t at the least contend.
Take Greg Biffle (+800), 1/6th unit. Biffle has one choice and one option simplest: win the following two races. And he can do it. He changed into by way of ways the first-rate car right here this spring and had a huge lead while his engine went terribly so that you can wager on him right here sincerely based on the “song-owes-him” idea. And at the same time as Biffle took a step backward at a Michigan song wherein he received consecutive occasions not too long ago (he finished seventh and fourth which, trust it or now not, is a step lower back), he’s nevertheless the unquestioned grasp when the tracks get wider and the automobiles can slide into the turns. While a lot of the guys in front of him in the standings need to play it conservatively, Biffle has to go pass cross.