List of the Week: Bubble Drivers Race to the Chase
With the cutoff for the Chase quickly approaching, a mere 5 races now separates us from the beginning of NASCAR’s playoff season. Yet, still, there is quite a bit of uncertainty in the air as to whom will be competing for a championship in the final 10 races and who will be racing to build momentum for the 2009 season. Only 80 points separates 7th place Kasey Kahne from 12th place Clint Bowyer, and only 46 points from Bowyer back to 14th place David Ragan. Even Brian Vickers all the way back in 16th still has a shot at this thing as he lingers 203 points out from the final Chase cutoff spot.
So, with 8 drivers still caught up in a tight race for those final 6 positions in the Chase, and 2 others still holding out hope, this week’s “List of the Week” is a look at each of the ten drivers’ average finish throughout races 22 to 26 on the Schedule - or, the final 5 races leading into the Chase, rather - since the inception of the Chase back in 2004. It should be noted, however, that of these 10 drivers, three of them - Denny Hamlin, Clint Bowyer, and David Ragan - have not been full-time drivers through all four seasons that carried the Chase format, and these numbers reflect only race results from which the drivers were competing full-time.
10. Brian Vickers - 16th in pts - 21.5
9. David Ragan - 14th in pts - 21.2
8. Ryan Newman - 15th in pts - 17.9
7. Clint Bowyer - 12th in pts - 16.8
6. Greg Biffle - 8th in pts - 16.6
5. Kevin Harvick - 11th in pts - 15.6
4. Kasey Kahne - 7th in pts - 14.4
3. Denny Hamlin - 10th in pts - 12.1
2. Matt Kenseth - 13th in pts - 11.1
1. Tony Stewart - 9th in pts - 8.8
Matt Kenseth and Tony Stewart also lead these drivers with the most wins during those races with 3 apiece; Harvick has 2 wins in the final 5 races leading to the Chase since 2004; and Kasey Kahne and Greg Biffle each have a win to their credit as well.
Best Single Season Average Run Through Final 5 Races Leading to the Chase:
5. Kevin Harvick - 7.8 (2006)
4. Matt Kenseth - 7.6 (2006)
3. Matt Kenseth - 6.2 (2005)
2. Tony Stewart - 6.0 (2007)
1. Tony Stewart - 5.2 (2005)