Closing on Kyle: Johnson, Edwards in Hot Pursuit of Points

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TICKETS ARE ON SALE NOW for Ford Championship Weekend 2008. Set for Nov. 14-16 on Homestead-Miami Speedway's 1.5-mile oval, the NASCAR Sprint Cup, Nationwide and Craftsman Truck Series all will crown champions under the lights. To secure individual or group tickets for NASCAR’s championship finale, call (866) 409-RACE or visit www.HomesteadMiamiSpeedway.com.

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Aug. 6, 2008) – Don't count out Carl Edwards or 2007 SprintCup Champion Jimmie Johnson out just yet. There's still plenty of racing left until the Chase for the Cup culmenates at Homestead-Miami Speedway this November. Kyle Busch’s comfortable Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup bonus points lead suddenly doesn’t look all that insurmountable.

Two weeks ago, Jimmie Johnson won at Indianapolis and collected 10 Chase bonus points, pushing his season total to 20. A week later at Pocono, Carl Edwards won, and pushed his bonus point total to 30.

In both those races, Busch, the Chase bonus points leader with 70, finished outside the top 10.

The future looks even more promising for Edwards and Johnson, who either lead or closely rival Busch in pre-race Driver Rating at three of the final five tracks in the Race to the Chase (the 10 races that precede the Chase).

"I never conceded and I just said, lets go all out. We have nothing to lose, let's just try and finish up the remaining races, just like we have been doing. Its all about winning races." Johnson told reporters last year about his winning strategy

It seemed to work in Indy. But will it hold up in the future?

Watkins Glen
                            Pre-Race 
Driver               Driver Rating      Rank
Jimmie Johnson       104.5               5th
Carl Edwards             85.6              10th
Kyle Busch                84.9              11th

Michigan
                            Pre-Race 
Driver               Driver Rating      Rank

Carl Edwards           112.5               1st
Jimmie Johnson       108.2               2nd
Kyle Busch              

90.8               11th

Auto Club Speedway (California)
                            Pre-Race 
Driver               Driver Rating      Rank

Jimmie Johnson       114.7              1st
Kyle Busch             109.9               3rd
Carl Edwards           105.6               4th

This weekend’s race could be most telling of all – and the wild card in the Race to the Chase.

It is hard to predict how the final running order will shake out at Watkins Glen. Both Johnson and Edwards hold a distinct statistical advantage over Busch. On the other hand, Busch dominated at Infineon Raceway in June – the only other road course race on the schedule – after having only moderate career success there in previous years.

Then there’s two-time champion Tony Stewart who could certainly sneak his way into the Chase bonus points battle – despite his winless 2008.

Stewart has wins at four of the remaining five Race to the Chase tracks (four wins at Watkins Glen, three at Richmond and one each at Bristol and Michigan).

The long climb would likely start this weekend at the Watkins Glen road course, where Stewart has won three of the last four races – including last season, his last victory in NASCAR Sprint Cup Series competition.

His Watkins Glen statistics since the inception of Loop Data in 2005 are phenomenal (all driver logs can be found on NASCARMedia.com):

Tony Stewart at Watkins Glen (2005-2007)
Year Finish      ARP      FLR      LT15%      DR      Led

8/05      1          1.5          39       100          150.0    83
8/06      2          3.4          14       100          130.1      7
8/07      1          5.0          23        91.1        133.6    20
Total    1.3         3.3          76        97.1        137.9   110
ARP: Average Running Position
FLR: Fastest Laps Run
LT15: Percentage of Laps in the Top 15
DR: Driver Rating
Led: Laps

Led

Stewart owns track-best marks in three major Loop Data categories at the Glen, including a perfect Driver Rating in 2005:

Driver Rating
Driver                    Date    DR

1. Tony Stewart      8/05   150.0
2. Tony Stewart      8/07   133.6

3. Jeff Gordon           8/07   131.6
4. Tony Stewart        8/06    130.1
5. Kevin Harvick        8/06   126.4

Average Running Position
Driver                    Date    ARP

1. Tony Stewart     8/05     1.5
2. Jeff Gordon          8/07     2.0
3. Tony Stewart     8/06     3.4
4. Jimmie Johnson   8/05     3.5
5. Denny Hamlin      8/07     4.3

Fastest Laps Run
Driver                    Date    FLR

1. Tony Stewart     8/05      39
2. Kurt Busch          8/06      25
3. Tony Stewart     8/07      23
4. Tony Stewart     8/06      14

5. Jeff Gordon          8/07      12

 

TICKETS ARE ON SALE NOW for Ford Championship Weekend 2008. Set for Nov. 14-16 on Homestead-Miami Speedway's 1.5-mile oval, the NASCAR Sprint Cup, Nationwide and Craftsman Truck Series all will crown champions under the lights. To secure individual or group tickets for NASCAR’s championship finale, call (866) 409-RACE or visit www.HomesteadMiamiSpeedway.com.

[story and photo courtesy of NASCARmedia.com]

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