Race Weekend Central

Who’s Hot/Who’s Not in Sprint Cup: 2008 Camping World RV 400 at Dover Edition

If you rewind three weeks with me, you’ll notice the Chase for the Sprint Cup title had a discernibly different look to it. After Richmond, Kyle Busch led the points standings heading into the Chase, holding a 30-point lead after flat-out dominating the first 26 races. Far down the list, Greg Biffle sat ninth, 80 points back, along with four other drivers who failed to earn a win in the regular season.

Now, just two races later – and thanks to reversed fortunes – Biffle is two-for-two, with wins in each of the first two Chase events. That’s jumped him up to third in points, while Busch sits 12th, 210 points back from Carl Edwards after mechanical problems in the first two races.

Biffle is the hottest driver in the Chase so far, Busch is the coldest, and Edwards continues to lead the points. But how about the other nine drivers? Who still has a chance to contend for the title, and who, like Busch, is all but eliminated from the championship picture? Check out this week’s Who’s Hot/Who’s Not in Sprint Cup: Chase Edition to find out.


Biffle: It’s been one heck of a start to the Chase for Biffle, a driver few picked to have a shot at the title just one month ago. Winless in his first 26 races, the former Truck Series and Nationwide Series champion is now two-for-two in the win column, just 10 points out of the lead with eight races to go. Could Biffle become the first driver to win a championship in all three of NASCAR’s national touring series? Certainly, but there’s still a long way to go just yet. Fortunately for the No. 16 team, they now head to Kansas, where they have three top fives and one win in their last four starts at the track.

Chase stats: 2 races, 2 wins, 2 top fives, 2 top 10s

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Carl Edwards: The series points leader after just two races, Edwards has begun the Chase the same way he finished the first 26 – consistently strong. Dating back to the Brickyard in July, Edwards has registered eight top 10s in nine events, including three wins, to start a streak that would put him atop the standings with or without the Chase format. And with two third-place finishes to start the playoffs, Edwards has made it difficult for any of his competitors to make up much ground in the standings.

Chase stats: 2 races, 0 wins, 2 top fives, 2 top 10s

Jimmie Johnson: The No. 48 team was one of the favorites for the title coming into the Chase – and rightfully so. With two consecutive wins going into the final 10 races and back-to-back titles, all signs pointed to a successful Chase for Johnson – and he hasn’t disappointed. A fifth-place finish at Dover makes it four consecutive top fives for the two-time defending champion, who sits second in points.

Chase stats: 2 races, 0 wins, 2 top fives, 2 top 10s

Kevin Harvick: Harvick has been a consistency machine over the past two months, with eight consecutive top 10s and counting. Still, the No. 29 team needs wins, as they continue to lose ground to Edwards, Biffle and Johnson – all of whom have finished better than Harvick over the first two races of the Chase.

Chase stats: 2 races, 0 wins, 0 top fives, 2 top 10s


Jeff Burton: After five consecutive runs of 11th or worse, Burton has started the Chase exactly the way he needed to in order to stay in the championship picture. With a ninth-place finish this weekend, the No. 31 team has raced its way to three straight top 10s, including a fourth-place run to start the Chase last weekend at New Hampshire. He now sits fourth in points, 82 back of Edwards.

Chase stats: 2 races, 0 wins, 1 top five, 2 top 10s

Clint Bowyer: As we saw last season, Bowyer runs strong at a number of the tracks featured in the postseason. The No. 07 team surprised everybody one year ago, finishing third in points after a strong effort in the final 10 races, and is looking to do the same again in ’08. After a 12th-place run at the opener in New Hampshire last weekend, Bowyer finished eighth on Sunday, moving up three spots in the standings to sixth. Despite not earning a top five in over two months, Bowyer has five consecutive top 15s, and heads to his home track of Kansas this weekend – where he finished second one year ago.

Chase stats: 2 races, 0 wins, 0 top fives, 1 top 10

Tony Stewart: Stewart’s career at Joe Gibbs Racing is coming to an end, but judging by his runs as of late, you’d never know. Despite a pit-road speeding penalty last weekend at Loudon, he fought back to an eighth-place finish, and this weekend posted another solid 11th-place run. Like several Chase competitors, however, top 10s simply won’t cut it if Stewart wants to end his tenure at JGR with a championship.

Chase stats: 2 races, 0 wins, 0 top fives, 1 top 10

Jeff Gordon: This was the week for Gordon to eat into the points lead of Edwards and Johnson; but despite starting from the pole and leading much of the first part of the race, Gordon finished seventh while the Roush Fenway cars went on to dominate the event. Gordon now has five consecutive top 15s; but again, with the finishes the Chase leaders are putting together, it’s simply not enough.

Chase stats: 2 races, 0 wins, 0 top fives, 1 top 10


Denny Hamlin: The No. 11 team had a good car this weekend, but had rear-end problems that relegated him to a 38th-place finish. It was Hamlin’s first non-top 10 since he ran into engine problems at Michigan five races ago – and like that finish, this one could seriously deflate his team’s confidence, as they fell to 11th in the standings.

Chase stats: 2 races, 0 wins, 0 top fives, 1 top 10

Dale Earnhardt Jr.: For awhile, it seemed the No. 88 team would be one of those teams that caught fire in the Chase and compete for the title. But despite ending the regular season with a fourth-place finish and starting the Chase with a fifth last weekend at Loudon, Junior ran a disappointing 24th at Dover. Now, this stat becomes more relevant instead – those two top fives were Earnhardt’s only two in his last 10 races.

Chase stats: 2 races, 0 wins, 1 top five, 1 top 10

Matt Kenseth: A great run for Kenseth this weekend – but the same goes for every other RFR car, limiting his gains in the title Chase. A DNF last weekend seemingly put an end to his championship hopes after one race, but this is a team that has the capability of making a run in the final eight events. The question is, which team will show up? Will it be the one with two finishes of 35th or worse in the last three races, or the one with four top 10s in the other four.

Chase stats: 2 races, 0 wins, 1 top five, 1 top 10


Busch: Who would have ever thought Lil’ Busch would be on the COLD list, especially this late into the season? After an array of problems at Loudon last weekend resulted in two spins, engine problems did the No. 18 team in at Dover, leaving Busch to announce over the radio, “We’re done,”… and he is. While every other Chase driver has at least one top 10 in two Chase races, Busch has an average finish of 38.5, dropping him to 12th in points, 210 points away from main rival Edwards.

Chase stats: 2 races, 0 wins, 0 top fives, 0 top 10s, 1 DNF

About the author

The Frontstretch Staff is made up of a group of talented men and women spread out all over the United States and Canada. Residing in 15 states throughout the country, plus Ontario, and widely ranging in age, the staff showcases a wide variety of diverse opinions that will keep you coming back for more week in and week out.

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