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Pedley: A Fist Full Of Lists About The Chase

| Managing Editor, RacinToday.com Sunday, September 12 2010

Denny Hamlin is the top seed in the Chase. Who can pass him? Let us count the contenders. (Photo by John Harrelson/Getty Images for NASCAR)

By Jim Pedley | Managing Editor

Yep, it’s a list column. You know, one of those poor excuses for real writing, usually born out of laziness or half-backed ideas.

They are never funny or insightful and no new ground will be broken here.

This one is a special Chase for the Sprint Cup Championship edition. It will concern the number five. The fifth loneliest number that you’ll ever do (though six can be as bad as five).

It will be kept short as everybody has football to watch today – or do they? Judging from a recent piece I read, the NFL will be blacking out games at an unprecedented rate this season.

Anyway, here goes.

Top five drivers who have shot at winning the 2010 championship:

1. Jimmie Johnson. This is presented without explanation because none is needed.

2. Denny Hamlin. Those bonus points. No matter what people are saying about his 60 bonus points, it is better to have them than not have them.

3. Carl Edwards. Momentum, baby. I spent some casual time – he didn’t pitch one product – with him last week and the guy is feeling it, my friends.

4. Kyle Busch. A nose for the checkers. His unharnessable win-or-spin attitude could destroy him in the Chase. Or it could make him champion. The latter is more likely this year.

5. Clint Bowyer. Horsepower. And knowing how to use it. The RCR cars are winning a lot of drag races this year. I think Bowyer has better chance than his teammates as I think he is the better wheelman.

Top five drivers who missed the Chase who I wish had not missed the Chase:

1. Juan Pablo Montoya. The guy brings a tension to races in which he is competing for victories. The thought here is that a guy from Colombia may be the top old-school American driver in the sport.

2. Brad Keselowski. Yep, love watching The Kes wheel a car. Plus, with all the feuds he’s got going on, he would surely kick up the Nielsen numbers.

3. Jamie McMurray. The guy wins the Daytona 500 and the Brickyard 400 in the same year and is not in the Chase. What up with that?

4. Mark Martin. It’s real tough to figure out how this all blew up but I think the Chase was better for his presence last year.

5. Dale Earnhardt Jr. It’s just not a party without Junior.

Top five races in the Chase:

1. Talladega Superspeedway. I kind of like to think of myself as a racing purists and as such, I have a problem with Talladega. But I also like excitement and no place produces it like that place.

2. New Hampshire Motor Speedway. This is a sentimental choice. The scene up there in autumn – with the trees just starting to change and the nip in the air and all that crap – makes me smile.

3. Phoenix International Raceway. The track and the grounds are worn and dumpy, and those dang bees which make taking a drink out of a can of soda a dangerous endeavor, are a bummer. But what a race track. Love the kink and love the sand on the surface.

4. Charlotte Motor Speedway. Got to have one there for symbolic reasons. Just wish the Carolina fan base would respond in bigger numbers. You coming out this year or not?

5. Kansas Speedway. The Heartland absolutely needs to be represented in the Chase. The racing is dang good at the place, the place is fan friendly and there is plenty to do when the cars are not on the track.

Top five changes which should be made to the Chase:

1, Add a road course to the lineup. The top athlete in the Olympics is the decathlete because he shows breadth of talent. I say a Sprint Cup champions should be forced to show the same breadth.

2. Make Daytona the final race of the Chase. Start it there, decide it there, end it there.

3. Replace Martinsville with Bristol. Yes, got to have short-track racing in the Chase but the best short track in the sport should be represented.

4. Return the banquet to New York City. Yes, I am well aware of the incongruities of having America’s most rural sport celebrating in Manhattan. But, hey, you want congruity, hold the banquet North Wilkesboro.

5. All winners of races should be in the Chase.

Top five quotes from Richmond:

1. Tony Gibson, crew chief for Ryan Newman – “We had a solid sixth-to-eighth-place car tonight.”

Talk about aiming high.

2. Winner Denny Hamlin – “Kyle (Busch) put the pressure on us and he made a heck of a charge. Luckily for me it was a teammate because if it had been anyone else, he probably would have moved us.”

You think?

3. Clint Bowyer, who finally nailed his Chase berth – “It’s just go cat go from here.”

Think Bowyer likes Elvis too much?

4. Jeff Burton, who is in the Chase, was asked what his goals were the final 10 races – “Ah, finish the best we can.”

Shoot the questioner.

5. Tony Stewart, when asked, well, the answer comes up whenever drivers are asked anything about anything  – “Really proud of our guys and everybody at Office Depot and Old Spice. Burger King, Coca Cola, Mac Tools, Haas Automation, US Army, Tornados, Chevrolet, everybody who has been part of this program the last two years and helped us build this and put us in a position where we can be in the Chase two years.”

Hmmm, wonder why fans are having more and more trouble relating to racecar drivers? And what about mom?

– Jim Pedley can be reached at jpedley@racintoday.com

| Managing Editor, RacinToday.com Sunday, September 12 2010