By admin | October 8, 2012
By Richard Allen
Coming into the 2012 version of the Chase for the Championship many followers of NASCAR circled the Talladega race as one that would be a true wildcard in determining this season’s Sprint Cup champion. Considering that anything can and will happen on the giant track with its tight restrictor plate induced packs, no driver could be assured of contender status until he emerged from that event still near the top of the points listing.
Now that the Talladega race is over, three drivers have broken away from the rest of the Chase field and look to settle the issue among themselves.
Brad Keselowski is the current leader in the standings with a 14 point advantage over five time champion Jimmie Johnson and a 23 point cushion over Denny Hamlin. The next closest driver to the top-3 is Kasey Kahne, who is 36 points in arrears. Everyone else is at least 40 points back.
While those three drivers did not necessarily get out of Talladega unscathed, they did not suffer irreparable loses. That is especially true considering over half the field crashed on their way to the checkered flag.
The current system in use by NASCAR is not one conducive to large comebacks in short periods of time. With that taken into consideration, those drivers from 4th place on back are almost a full race worth of points behind with only six events remaining. It would take a freakish set of circumstances for any of those nine drivers to get back into championship contention. And with Talladega being the track most likely to produce a freakish set of circumstances, there just aren’t any races left on the schedule that offer a great opportunity for all three top drivers to suffer great loses.
The Chase for the Championship was designed to provide a multi-driver dash to the final race that would keep fans interested all the way down to the wire. Last year it provided a two man fight to the finish and this year it looks to be offering up a three man contest. Many years, the old system produced those kind of numbers without any manipulation.
From here on out, expect virtually all attention to be heaped upon three drivers. Tough luck if you’re a fan of anyone else.
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