The Chase gets close: How will it end in Homestead-Miami Speedway?

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Tickets are on sale now for Ford Championship Weekend 2008, Nov. 14-16 on Homestead-Miami Speedway's 1.5-mile oval, as the NASCAR Sprint Cup, Nationwide and Craftsman Truck Series all crown champions under the lights. To secure individual or group tickets for NASCAR's finale, call (866) 409-RACE or visit www.HomesteadMiamiSpeedway.com.–

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla.The Race to the Chase – the 10 races preceding the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup – is shaping up to be the closest in its five-year history.

After 23 races, the Chase cut-off bubble is the second-tightest in the Chase’s history:Will it be a Kyle vs Carl showdown; or will  it be Johnson and Earnhardt that make a late run to the Championship? 

Carl Edwards, past Busch Series and Bristol Champion let everyone know, "Don't give Kyle Busch the championship just yet."

Edwards won his fifth race of the season, and second in the last three races, closing the Chase bonus points gap by another 10 points. Busch leads with 80 points for his eight wins. Edwards has 40 (due to a rule infraction after his victory at Las Vegas, Edwards did not receive the 10 Chase bonus points for that win).

A quick rundown:
• In 2004, six points separated Jeremy Mayfield in 11th and Kasey Kahne in 10th.
• In 2005, 51 points separated Dale Jarrett in 11th and Jamie McMurray in 10th.
• In 2006, 49 points separated Kahne in 11th and Dale Earnhardt Jr. in 10th.
• Last season, 163 points separated Earnhardt in 13th and Kurt Busch in 12th.
• This year, only 26 points separate both Clint Bowyer and David Ragan who are in 13th and 14th, respectively, from 12th-place Denny Hamlin.

But with three races remaining until the Chase’s start, the battle for a Chase berth wages well beyond 12th through 14th. Currently, 82 points separate ninth-place Jeff Gordon from the Chase cut-off. Going deeper, sixth-place Tony Stewart is 162 points ahead of the cut-off.
In one race, 161 points can be made up.
According to the Loop Data statistics, Kevin Harvick (eighth), Matt Kenseth (10th) and Stewart seem the likeliest candidates to hold on to their current top-12 position.
At the next three tracks, all three drivers have an average Driver Rating of over 100.0 since 2005. Harvick has a 102.5; Kenseth has a 102.3; Stewart has a 101.9. Only one other driver, Kyle Busch, has a Driver Rating over 100 (103.7), and he has already locked up a Chase berth.

 

The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Top 12 at Bristol Motor Speedway

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93.1
 
Driver
Races
Poles
Wins
Top Fives
Top 10s
DNFs
Average Finish
Driver Rating
 
1
Kyle Busch
7
0
1
2
4
0
14.0
90.6
2
Carl Edwards
8
0
1
2
3
1
15.4
86.2
3
Jimmie Johnson
13
0
0
2

6
1
16.2
78.2
4
Dale Earnhardt Jr
17
0
1
7
10
1
11.3

96.8
5
Jeff Burton
29
0
1
8
12

align="center">5
17.7
94.5
6
Tony Stewart
19
1
1
5
6
2
16.8
102.4
7
Greg Biffle
11
0
0
4
7
0
9.7
103.2
8
Kevin Harvick
15
0
1
8
10
1
9.9
102.6
9
Jeff Gordon
31
5
5
12
18
5
11.7
101.4
10
Matt Kenseth
17
1
2
7
10
3
12.4
109.0
11
Kasey Kahne
9
1
0
1
3
2
18.6
92.7
12
Denny Hamlin
5
0
0
0
2
1
16.6

Past Cup Champion Jimmie Johnson talked about this weekend at Bristol

"A lot of the beatin' and bangin' that fans have long loved to see has turned into clean passing -- which is great for the guy in the cockpit, if not for the guy in the grandstand seat. "From a driver's standpoint, Bristol is much more enjoyable now than it's ever been," Johnson said. "You can really race people, try different lines, explore around the track, and explore set-ups. So I like the challenges that Bristol gives us now, but it's because I can control my own destiny",said Johnson.

It  looks like things may continue to grow more competitive as the countdown continues; adding up to one of the closest Chases in the Cup's 5 year history. And considering the three races remaining before the cutoff are at three distinctly different tracks, consistency across the next three weeks becomes even more important for the Championship road to Miami.

[photo courtesy of gettyimages.com]
[story courtesy of NASCARmedia.com]

Tickets are on sale now for Ford Championship Weekend 2008, Nov. 14-16 on Homestead-Miami Speedway's 1.5-mile oval, as the NASCAR Sprint Cup, Nationwide and Craftsman Truck Series all crown champions under the lights. To secure individual or group tickets for NASCAR's finale, call (866) 409-RACE or visit www.HomesteadMiamiSpeedway.com.

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