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So, to which do you lend greater weight- wins or consistency? It’s the question pondered here every week as the Bump Drafts Big 10 Driver Rankings are compiled, and it’s also one worth pondering when considering how to determine a champion.
That whole question of points, and whether or not to have a playoff system at all is something we’ll take up on another. Today, we tackle who’s hot and who’s not in NASCAR…..
THE BIG 10
10. Carl Edwards- (Re-entry)- Cousin Carl has returned from the federal “Witness Protection” program to race in NASCAR. I don’t know who that other guy was impersonating Edwards, but there’s no question what we saw was the old Carl Saturday. All kidding aside, two top tens in two weeks is a big time step back in right direction.
9. Clint Bowyer- (Re-entry)- "Our cars are fast enough to deserve to be in the Chase.” That’s what Bowyer says, and that’s half the battle right there, confidence in your team and in your equipment. For the most part, he’s been as good as his RCR teammates, putting him in a more favorable position to stay in the top twelve than the drivers from EGR, Roush and Richard Petty. In fact, I wouldn’t be shocked if a win comes to him within the next seven weeks.
8. Tony Stewart- (Down from 5th last week)- With five top tens in his last six races, Smoke has gone from pretender to contender. He’s still not 100% on his game yet. If I had been interviewing him on FOX’s Hartman and Friends last week, my question for him would been more along the order of wondering if the difference between this year and last was more a matter of the competition pulling further ahead, or if in some way his team had slipped. I suspect the former, because Stewart and his brain trust are a pretty darn good combination. Unless something goes terrbily wrong, Stewart is my early pick to win the Brickyard.
7. Kasey Kahne- (Up from 9th)- How crazy is the points system? Kahne gets a top ten, but loses ground in the points. Another sure sign the results from Joliet were more of what you’d expect from a plate race. Kasey now has four top tens in his last five races (three are top fives), so if he keeps it up, who knows? I’m keeping my eye on Kahne heading into Indianapolis.
6. Jeff Burton- (Holding)- As a fan, I find myself rooting for Burton in the same way I rooted for Mark Martin last year. I think it’d be great to have one of NASCAR’s most respected, go about your business, non-diva types win the championships. Wins are needed to make it happen, but RCR, crew chief Todd Berrier and the pit crew have all teamed to make this guy a threat to win nearly every week.
5. Kurt Busch- (Down from 3rd last week)- In his Chicago misery, Busch had plenty of company. Never have so many top drivers seemed to struggle the way the Blue Deuce, The Biff, J.J. and Harvick did all at the same time. Oh well, it’s just one race, and he’s earned a cushion. Kurt is still the top Dodge, and the top dog in the Busch family so far in 2010.
4. Jeff Gordon- (Up from 4th last week)- With an average finish of 3.8 over the last five races, Gordon is easily better than Johnson, Harvick and Hamlin. I’d just be more excited about the original “Four Time’s” prospects if he were winning. He sure looked like one for a little while until Beak ran him down.
3. Kevin Harvick- (Down from 1st last week)- The bad luck fairy has moved over from Clint Bowyer’s garage to Harvick’s. His move down in the rankings has nothing to do with a skill, just a combination of lousy luck and fewer wins on the board than the top two.
2. Denny Hamlin- (Up from 7th last week)- Why give Denny the nod here? A combination of two reasons: a) The wins. Hamlin is tied with Johnson for the series. b) By virtue of finishing eighth at Chicagoland, it’s safe to say the “mini slump” is over. This dude will be in the mix as a possibility for knocking off “Four Time.”
1. Jimmie Johnson- (Up from 2nd last week)- So, there you have it, I place a greater weight on wins- at least this week. I suppose you could also argue that Johnson’s week sucked just a little bit less than Harvick’s. A weird one, for sure, Chicago’s race was one of the few where Jimmie essentially gave it away. I’ll go on record as agreeing with John “Dawg” Champman’s assessment earlier this week: Johnson is still the driver to beat, but he can be beaten. I actually believe he will this year, myself.
FALLING OFF THE PACE
Welcome back to Earth, Dale Earnhardt, Jr. After a very nice string of decent races, thing fell apart last week. Give him credit, he knows his team has a ways to go, but they’re making strides…Kyle Busch hasn’t seen he top ten since the first week of June. Conventional wisdom says he’ll make it in, but Busch is far from conventional, and it’s debatable the notion of using the Busch name and “wise” in the same sentence. Just kidding!
READY TO STRIKE
Jamie McMurray and David Reutimann are determined to make things interesting. There’s not likely enough consistency to get these two in past Greg Biffle and Matt Kenseth. It seems a shame that a system that is supposed to rewards winning doesn’t. Then again, Kenseth missed the chase and had two(!) wins last year. If the first two mentioned here make it in, it may very well be at the expense of the latter two. Give Kenseth, in particular, credit for hanging on. He reminds me of Harrison Ford in The Fugitive, just hanging on by one hand.
Ryan Newman and Mark Martin are far from out, but a reversal of fortunes is badly needed….and quick. Maybe being in the “Hoosier State” will work some magic for the “39”….It’s official: Juan Pablo Montoya is a maxi-zoomed knucklehead. I don’t hate any driver, they all have their good qualities- including JPM- but he’s at the bottom of my “root for” list right now….If top 15s were a bigger deal, they’d be singing the praises of A.J. Allmendinger. He now has six in his last seven races. His RPM stablemate Paul Menard gets props for his 10th place run at Chicagoland.