From the Crossville Chronicle – Crossville, TN Wed. Sept. 17, 2008
By Joe Dunn
What a difference the implementation of the ‘Chase for the Sprint Cup Championship’ makes after just one race. A single bad finish has dropped the leader, Kyle Busch seven places from first to eight.
Greg Biffle battled with Jimmie Johnson and managed to hold him off for the win Sunday, but can the ‘Bif’ pull off the big win this year? Biffle is a very soft-spoken driver hailing from the northwest, who has risen quietly among the leaders of the Cup series. By taking the win, he has climbed from 9th to 3rd in just one week, but this was his first win of the year. That climb, combined with the massive drop for Kyle Busch shows just how fast and drastic points can change from a single race in the Chase.
Without the chase, Busch would still be 103 points ahead of Edwards in the standings, even after the disastrous day at New Hampshire. The new system, which was the brain child of Brian France was not well received when it was introduced in 2005, but has since been accepted as ‘the way it is.’ With that acceptance, many of the old time Nascar fans are still not happy with the Chase and how it determines a champion.
Dale Earnhardt Jr managed to save the day Sunday after a bad set of tires midway through the race, but the credit must go to car owner Rick Hendrick. After the pit stop to change tires, Earnhardt quickly fell back and he echoed his displeasure to the crew via the radio. The tirade got so bad that Hendrick finally got on the radio to talk Jr down, and is credited for saving the day. This was the third race in a row that Hendrick intervened to settle down young Earnhardt and lead him to concentrate on the race rather than the problems.
As the series heads to Dover, Delaware and the monster Mile this week, the Joe Gibbs racing #18 team has it’s work ahead of them. With a 74 point deficit the team has to perform at their best level, which means they must look to lead the most laps and take the win. Even if they manage that, a strong finish for Edwards and Johnson, which should be expected, would leave the 18 team with a long road ahead. Carl Edwards is the new points leader which should surprise no one, however Jimmie Johnson is in an too familiar place tied for the lead as the Chase heads to week two. Edwards is the leader this week, but actually tied in points with Johnson, the tier breaker is the number of wins, 6 for Edwards and 4 for Johnson. This is the point where the importance of penalties rears it’s ugly head, as Carl Edwards lost that coveted 10 bonus points after the post race penalty following his win at Texas in the spring. The effects of that penalty were not as evident before as they are right now, and the chase is not where you want Jimmie Johnson breathing down your neck.
I-40 Dragway will conduct it’s weekly testing and tuning session Friday with Saturday being the Season’s Final Points race.