Commentary

Handicapping the Chase -- Kansas

Handicapping the Chase -- Kansas.

Updated: September 27, 2007, 7:35 PM ET
By Terry Blount | ESPN.com

Ignore all the complaining in the Roush Fenway Racing Camp. Carl Edwards will take his 25-point penalty and move on, still knowing he has an excellent shot at the 2007 Nextel Cup.

Edwards remains only 28 points back. Things look grim for Kurt Busch and Denny Hamlin, but with eight races to go in the Chase, it isn't a lost cause yet.

Here's an update on where the Chase drivers stand heading to Kansas Speedway:

Jeff Gordon

Jeff Gordon
Rank -- 1st, two points ahead
Started the Chase -- 2nd, 20 points back
Net gain -- one spot, 22 points
Chase results -- 2nd at New Hampshire, 11th at Dover
How he can win it all -- Continue to do what he's done all season
How he can blow it -- Being too conservative with so many drivers only a few points behind.
Is Kansas his yellow brick road? -- Skipping right along with two wins and four top-10s in six Kansas races.

Tony Stewart

Tony Stewart
Rank -- 2nd, two points back
Started the Chase -- 3rd, 30 points back
Net gain -- One spot, 28 points
Chase results -- 3rd at New Hampshire, 9th at Dover
How he can win it all -- Have one of those amazing Stewart hot streaks.
How he can blow it -- Letting this temper cost him a good finish along the way.
Is Kansas his yellow brick road? -- He's the wizard here. Five top-10s and a victory last year.

Jimmie Johnson

Jimmie Johnson
Rank -- 3rd, four points back
Started the Chase -- 1st, 20 points ahead
Net loss -- two spots, 24 points
Chase results -- 6th at New Hampshire, 14th at Dover
How he can win it all -- Doing what he did in the Chase last year with five finishes in the top 2.
How he can blow it -- A Chad Knaus penalty down the stretch.
Is Kansas his yellow brick road? -- Three top-10s, but no top-5s.

Kyle Busch

Kyle Busch
Rank -- 4th, 10 points back
Started the Chase -- tied for 6th, 50 points back
Net gain -- two spots, 40 points
Chase results -- 4th at New Hampshire, 5th at Dover
How he can win it all -- The only Chaser with two top-5s. Keep that up and he'll be the champ.
How he can blow it -- Letting his immaturity overwhelm his talent.
Is Kansas his yellow brick road? -- 7th last year was his first top-20 in three starts.

Clint Bowyer

Clint Bowyer
Rank -- 5th, 18 points back
Started the Chase -- 12th, 60 points back
Net gain -- seven spots, 42 points
Chase results -- 1st at New Hampshire, 12th at Dover
How he can win it all -- Made some believers by starting the Chase with his first victory. Win one or two more and everyone will believe.
How he can blow it -- Inexperience in the Chase leading to mental mistakes.
Is Kansas his yellow brick road? -- It's his home track, where he was ninth as a rookie last year.

Carl Edwards

Carl Edwards
Rank -- 6th, 28 points back
Started the Chase -- tied for fourth, 40 points back
Net loss/gain -- lost two spots, gained 12 points
Chase results -- 12th at New Hampshire, first at Dover
How he can win it all -- Getting hot on the 1.5-mile cookie cutters where he's usually strong.
How he can blow it -- Letting the 25-point penalty affect him mentally.
Is Kansas his yellow brick road? -- Clicks his heel pretty well here with a 3rd in 2005 and a 6th last year.

Martin Truex Jr.

Martin Truex Jr.
Rank -- 7th, 46 points back
Started the Chase -- tied for 6th, 50 points back
Net loss/gain -- lost one spot, gained four points
Chase results -- 5th at New Hampshire, 13th at Dover
How he can win it all -- Be strong at the tracks where he was strong earlier this year: Texas, Atlanta, Talladega.
How he can blow it -- Becoming of victim of the DEI engine failures.
Is Kansas his yellow brick road? -- 11th as a rookie last year.

Jeff Burton

Jeff Burton
Rank -- 8th, 75 points back
Started the Chase -- tied for 6th, 50 points back
Net loss -- two spots, 25 points
Chase results -- 18th at New Hampshire, 7th at Dover
How he can win it all -- Make it a Texas two-step for victories at Fort Worth this year and show major improvement at Talladega.
How he can blow it -- Fade down the stretch as he did last year.
Is Kansas his yellow brick road? -- 5th last year was his first top-10 on the 1.5-mile oval.

Kevin Harvick

Kevin Harvick
Rank -- 9th, 115 points back
Started the Chase -- tied for sixth, 50 points back
Net loss -- three spots, 65 points
Chase results -- 17th at New Hampshire, 20th at Dover
How he can win it all -- Drive like he did this summer with five top-10s in six races.
How he can blow it -- Another on-track confrontation with Juan Pablo Montoya.
Is Kansas his yellow brick road? -- More like his road to a wasteland with no top-10s in the last three Kansas shows.

Matt Kenseth

Matt Kenseth
Rank -- 10th, 116 points back
Started the Chase -- tied for sixth, 50 points back
Net loss -- four spots, 66 points
Chase results -- 7th at New Hampshire, 35th at Dover
How he can win it all -- Find that famous Kenseth consistency with a string of top-5s.
How he can blow it -- Another bad Kansas finish that puts him too far behind.
Is Kansas his yellow brick road? -- A road to ruin with one top-15 in his last four KC starts.

Kurt Busch

Kurt Busch
Rank -- 11th, 151 points back
Started the Chase -- tied for fourth, 40 points back
Net loss -- seven spots, 111 points
Chase results -- 25th at New Hampshire, 29th at Dover
How he can win it all -- Do what Pat Tryson tells him to do.
How he can blow it -- Revert back to racing the way he did in the first half of the season.
Is Kansas his yellow brick road? -- Road of potholes. One top-10 in his last five Kansas starts.

Denny Hamlin

Denny Hamlin
Rank -- 12th, 158 points back
Started the Chase -- tied for sixth, 50 points back
Net loss -- six spots, 108 points
Chase results -- 15th at New Hampshire, 38th at Dover
How he can win it all -- Top-10s or better at tracks where he did that earlier this year -- Texas, Martinsville, Charlotte and Phoenix.
How he can blow it -- Showing more impatience and wrecking lapped cars.
Is Kansas his yellow brick road? -- Average KC finish is 25th.

Terry Blount covers motorsports for ESPN.com. He can be reached at terry@blountspeak.com.

Terry Blount

ESPN Seattle Seahawks reporter

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