By admin | September 29, 2010
By Richard Allen
That deep sounding noise that is often heard when a contestant loses on a game show could have also been heard in the garage spaces of Greg Biffle, Tony Stewart, Matt Kenseth and Clint Bowyer after the AAA 400 in Dover this past weekend. Essentially, these four drivers have been eliminated from championship contention after only two Chase for the Sprint Cup races.
For a brief moment it looked as if Bowyer had thrust himself right into title contention after he crossed the finish line first in New Hampshire and bolted from 12th to 2nd in one giant leap. However, NASCAR’s subsequent penalty after infractions were found in regard to his car’s body dropped him just as quickly back to the Chase cellar. A final nail was driven into his chances on Wednesday when his team’s appeal was denied in that case.
Now, Bowyer sits in the 12th spot, 235 points behind leader Denny Hamlin.
Roush Fenway Racing teammates Biffle and Kenseth had to be considered long shots at best coming into the ten race playoff. Although Biffle did win one race during the ‘regular season’ neither of these drivers has at any point of the season truly looked like a threat for the crown.
Biffle is140 points back in 9th place while Kenseth is 165 markers in arrears in the 11th position.
Stewart took a gamble and lost in New Hampshire. In my opinion, it was a gamble worth taking when he risked a decent finishing spot to try and win the race by stretching his fuel. In order to have had any shot at winning his third championship he was going to have to hit big on a gamble somewhere and the first Chase race seemed like the place to try it.
Unfortunately for Stewart and his crew, they followed the New Hampshire race with a lackluster performance in Dover. The result of those two outings has been to place him 10th in the standings, 162 points out of the lead.
The problem for each of these drivers is not just the number of points they are behind but also that they would have to jump over so many others to win the championship. They do not have to depend on one or two drivers having misfortune, but rather, they would require two-thirds of the Chase field to experience a disaster.
However, with the game show consolation music now playing in each of their shops, they each walk away with a nice parting gift. Even though neither of them has had what could be described as a stellar season, they each get to go back to their sponsors and declare they did indeed make the Chase. And the way NASCAR is operated today, that is supposed to equate to the pinnacle of success(sarcasm totally intended).
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Richard Allen is a member of the National Motorsports Press Association. His weekly columns appear in The Mountain Press and The Knoxville Journal.
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