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NASCAR's Changing Chase

When The Chase for the Championship began most people were focused on the top four drivers. Kyle Busch, was a man on a mission with several wins under his belt. Carl Edwards was right on his heals, definitely a contender. Jimmie Johnson was trying to make history and become a 3-time consecutive winner. Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s move to Hendrick racing had been news all season. But what about the rest of the pack?

Two races in The Chase, the field has changed dramatically. Greg Biffle started out The Chase in ninth place. 2005 was Greg Biffle’s break-out season. He had six victories and took second place, to Tony Stewart for the championship that year. Now Biffle has won the first two Chase races, back to back and positioned himself in third place with eight races to go.

Kyle Busch the leader going into the Chase had eight wins to his credit and was thought by many to be the favorite. Now just two races into the Chase, Kyle Busch has declared his season over. Saying “we’re done” after ending the New Hampshire race in 34th and the Dover race in 43rd, putting him dead last in the Chase standings.

Carl Edwards with six wins this season and Jimmie Johnson with four wins are ranked one and two. Roush Fenway racing took the top three in the Dover Cup race with Mark Martin finishing fourth and Jimmie Johnson fifth. Proving that staying in the top and being competitive even when you don’t win the race is still very important in the standings.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. has had a few problems since entering the Chase and is currently ranked ninth. “Junior” has one win to his credit this season at Michigan but, he has had a great first year with Hendrick. Winning the Budweiser Shootout and one of the Gatorade Duels as well as having several top 5’s and top 10’s. “June Bug” still has a very good chance even with a 24th place finish at Dover.

But, all of this does go to show you that it’s really anybody’s game. These twelve driver’s are really all still in contention, even Kyle Busch. It is interesting to note that no winner of the Dover cup race has gone on to win the championship in the Chase era, and no chase leader has entered Dover with the points lead and held it after the checkered flag.

One thing is for sure, the format of the Chase makes it interesting right down to the end. We can see from all the changes in just two races, that we haven’t seen what’s truly in store for us just yet, guess we’ll have to keep watching, because it’s probably going to change every week.

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