JJ's 106-point Chase lead still a mountain to climb for Edwards
Carl Edwards has cut Jimmie Johnson's Chase lead almost in half the past two races. The Sprint Cup title is still JJ's to lose, but at least Edwards is making things interesting, writes Terry Blount.
Updated: November 11, 2008, 2:54 PM ETBy Terry Blount | ESPN.com
Carl Edwards is winning and making up ground, but history is against him in his quest to catch Jimmie Johnson.No driver has come back to win the Cup title from the spot where Carl Edwards sits today -- 106 points down with two races to go.The late Alan Kulwicki has the comeback record for the final two events, making up 85 points to top Bill Elliott and Davey Allison for the 1992 crown.Kulwicki was 144 points back with four races to go, compared to a 198-point deficit Edwards had with four remaining. So in the past two races, Edwards has made up 92 points. Duplicate that in the last two and he's the champ. Kulwicki wasn't involved in a Chase playoff, but the basic point structure was the same. Edwards does have one bonus that wasn't around 16 years ago. A driver today receives 10 more points for winning than the victor earned during Kulwicki's comeback.Dale Earnhardt made up 97 points on Rusty Wallace in the final two races of 1989, but Wallace held on to win the championship by 12 markers. As for the Chase, no points leader has lost the lead with two races to go since the playoff started in 2004. But this isn't an impossible task.Two more races with the same outcome as Texas -- an Edwards win and a 15th-place showing by Johnson -- would get it done. Edwards now is well within the 161 points a driver can make up in one event.But it's still a tall task, one that no other driver ever has accomplished.One interesting side note: Edwards will end the season with more top-5s and more top-10s than Johnson. He also will end the year with more victories unless Johnson wins the last two events. No Busch or Earnhardt at awards banquet?
Kyle Busch, the man who dominated the regular season and has eight Cup victories, may not make it to the season-ending awards banquet in New York City.
And the same fate could befall Dale Earnhardt Jr..Only the top 10 drivers in the standings get to walk on stage in their tuxedos at the Waldorf-Astoria. The Chase drivers who finish 11th and 12th are left out.Three men are battling to avoid those last two spots. Busch is 10th, but he's only one point ahead of Earnhardt in 11th. And Denny Hamlin is only two points behind Earnhardt in the final Chase spot.Tony Stewart and Matt Kenseth aren't safe, either. Kenseth is eighth, 36 points ahead of Earnhardt. Stewart is only 25 points ahead of the 11th spot.But the worst-case scenario for NASCAR is Busch and Earnhardt falling short. No Earnhardt would be the second consecutive year NASCAR's glittering season-ending show wouldn't have its most popular driver.And love him or hate him, Busch deserves to take the stage for what he has accomplished this season.
F1 gets the point
Maybe NASCAR should adopt the Formula One points format. The championship was decided by one point for the second consecutive year.Lewis Hamilton won the title by making a last-lap pass for fifth in the final event. Felipe Massa, the man who fell one point short, won the race.Anything close to that would be a dream come true for NASCAR officials.F1 has a 10-point system where only the top eight finishers earn points in a race.Saluting 'The Sarge'
Tony Schumacher, a leading candidate for Driver of the Year, clinched his fifth consecutive NHRA Top Fuel title (and sixth overall) in Las Vegas on Sunday with a remarkable 15th victory this season. But the Funny Car battle still has five drivers with a mathematical shot at the championship heading to the final race at Pomona, Calif., in two weeks.Cruz Pedregon holds a 12-point lead over Tim Wilkerson. If Pedregon wins it, he will equal John Force's record for number of years (16) between his first title and his most recent championship.However, Pedregon easily would hold the NHRA record for number of years between a driver's first title to his second.Keselowski vs. Logano
Brad Keselowski, who will race in the Nationwide Series again next year for JR Motorsports in the No. 88 Chevy, made his Cup debut at Texas and finished an impressive 19th in a fifth car for Hendrick Motorsports. Joey Logano, who will replace Tony Stewart next year in the No. 20 Toyota, finished 40th at Texas in his third Cup start while driving a fourth entry for Joe Gibbs Racing. Logano was the first driver to go a lap down when Clint Bowyer passed him on Lap 28. Hmmm. Now who is supposed to be the "Sliced Bread" phenom?Granted, this was just one race, and Logano had a bad car. But JGR officials could be getting a little nervous about their 18-year-old superstar-in-the-making, wondering whether he's ready to compete with the Cup veterans next season.
Terry Blount covers motorsports for ESPN.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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