By admin | August 4, 2009
By Richard Allen
Kyle Busch and David Reutimann came into the Pennsylvania 500 at the Pocono Raceway on the outside of the top-12 of the Sprint Cup standings. Unfortunately for both, the results of that race did little to help their chances of breaking into the all important Chase for the Championship rankings.
There are only five races remaining before the cutoff for the Chase. The margin for error is getting smaller and smaller. That means that any bad race at this late stage makes a driverâ€™s chances of making the Chase smaller and smaller.
Not only did both drivers need solid runs, but they also needed to beat those who they are closest to in the standings. Neither was able to do that in Pocono.
For Busch, his day was not disastrous but it was not helpful either. He was having a somewhat up and down sort of race until late in the event his car slid up the track and into the wall. The resulting damage did not end his run but did ruin any shot at a top-10.
Busch wound up 16th in the race. He actually moved up one spot in the standings to 13th but lost points to the top-12. He now finds himself 101 points behind 12th place Greg Biffle. He entered the race 82 points out of 12th in the standings.
Busch could absolutely make it back into the top-12, especially with his ability to get on a hot streak. But as was mentioned before, the margin for error is getting smaller. Any more 16th place finishes which find him behind the rest of the competition might well put an end to his championship hopes.
For Reutimann his day in Pennsylvania turned out much worse than that of Busch. He came into the race in the 13th spot of the overall standings, only 68 points from 12th place. However, a lap 174 bump from Denny Hamlin sent Reutimann sliding into the path of Marcos Ambrose. Both the #00 and the #47 were heavily damaged while Hamlin continued on to an eventual win.
Reutimannâ€™s 29th place finish dropped him to 16th in the standings, 121 points out of 12th. Like Busch, Reutimann is not so far behind that he cannot make it into the Chase, but he can afford no more races like the Pennsylvania 500.
The difficulty for both Busch and Reutimann, as well as Brian Vickers and Clint Bowyer who are 14th and 15th respectively, is that they must have five solid races in a row and they must have someone within the top-12 to falter at least once.
Richard Allen is a member of the National Motorsports Press Association. His weekly column appears in The Mountain Press every Wednesday.
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