Race Day: List of Chase Favorites Is Taking Shape
By Jim Pedley | Managing Editor
KANSAS CITY, Kan. – Counting today’s Hollywood Casino 400 at Kansas Speedway, seven races remain in the Chase for the Sprint Cup Championship. Mathematically, none of the 12 drivers in the playoff have been eliminated.
But lists of favorites to win the championship are under construction.
Some of the faves love being faves, some don’t. Below is reaction to a couple of those favorites to being favorites:
Carl Edwards, No. 99 Roush Fenway Racing, when asked if he enjoys being a favorite: “It really doesn’t matter to me. Obviously I hope to win the Chase and I believe that I am the favorite and our team is the favorite because we believe in one another. All the speculation in the world doesn’t change who is holding the trophy at the end of the year. At least you hope it doesn’t. I try not to subscribe to anyone’s opinions. I just try to go out there and do the best job I can and if we win it, we win it. I have been picked for a lot of things and usually it ends up being the opposite. I have been the media favorite to do things and not a favorite to do others. It doesn’t seem to correspond with the results. I am just trying to keep my head down, focus on what is important and go run.
“The crazy thing about this Chase is nobody would have picked Tony Stewart three or four weeks ago
and then it looks like he was going to dominate and he has one bad run at Dover and now they are talking about other people. With the closeness of the cars every week things could change. Then you throw in Talladega, the new surface at Phoenix, Martinsville, there is no telling. I don’t think you will know who the favorite is until about a third of the race through in Homestead. Then you will see who is running well enough to win it.”
Jimmie Johnson, No. 48 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet, when asked if he has a target on his back: “We’re close. To not be a smartass on you, we’re 13 points away from being that guy and that’s really what my goal is and that’s where I want to be. I think that people argue the point is it good to be under the radar or be out in front, in a 10-race format if you’re the guy setting the way and you continue to put distance between yourself and second, you gain an advantage at that point and that’s the advantage I want to have.”
Kevin Harvick, No. 29 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet: “We have two battles right now. One is against ourselves and the other is against the guys in second in points. That is the way we look at it. Don’t care where Jimmie Johnson is; don’t care where anyone else is. We are concerned about the No. 99 and what we have to do to beat that particular car right now. Controlling the things that we can control as a race team, I feel like if we do that we are going to maximize the potential that we have on that particular day and not try to add more to it than is really necessary.”
What: Hollywood Casino 400
Where: Kansas Speedway; Kansas City, Kan.
When: Sunday, 2:15 p.m. ET
TV: ESPN, 1 p.m. ET
Radio: MRN/Sirius Satellite Ch. 90
Track layout: 1.5-mile oval
Race distance: 267 laps/400.5 miles
2010 winner: Greg Biffle
2010 polesitter: Kasey Kahne
Today’s polesitter: Greg Biffle
Points leaders: 1. Kevin Harvick, 2,122; 2. Carl Edwards, 2,122; 3. Kurt Busch, 2,113; 4. Tony Stewart, 2,113; 5. Jimmie Johnson, 2,109; 6. Brad Keselowski, 2,108; 7. Matt Kenseth, 2,108; 8. Kyle Busch, 2,107; 9. Jeff Gordon, 2,103; 10. Dale Earnhardt Jr., 2,088; 11. Ryan Newman, 2,081; 12. Denny Hamlin, 2,054.
There will be a $100,000 carrot dangling in front of Sprint Cup teams and drivers when the take to the track at Talladega Superspeedway in a couple weeks.
That $100,000 will be in the form of a bonus to the driver who passes for the lead the most times during the race – if, that is, there are 100 or more passes for the lead in the race.
Perhaps not, considering that during the April race at Talladega there was a NASCAR record 88 lead changes.
“The insurance people thought it was pretty attainable,” Talladega president Grant Lynch said during Saturday’s announcement of the bonus at Kansas Speedway. “So we’re not going to insure it.”
Instead, the track will put up the money. “And I hope we pay it,” Lynch said.
A couple of drivers say the money is sufficient to encourage drivers to go for it.
“I think that would be great,” Keselowski said. “I think you’re going to see more of your mid-pack cars really run hard and some of the cars that aren’t in the Chase really looking for something cool to do. I think you’ll see them run really, really hard, where otherwise they might not have.”
Which driver has completed the most laps at Kansas Speedway?
Danica Patrick said during a press conference at Kansas that she is excited about moving to NASCAR full time next season.