Commentary

Will Biffle bounce back? Count on it at Atlanta

The Eliminator: Atlanta

Updated: October 24, 2008, 4:49 PM ET
By Matthew Willis | ESPN.com

Greetings to all you NASCAR fans out there.

And if you're not a NASCAR fan, why are you reading this? It seems unlikely that you typed in the wrong Web address and ended up here -- that's quite a string of numbers and letters up there.

Maybe you're a fan, not so much of the Eliminator, but of its close personal friend: me.

To clarify, since you're probably wondering: Am I the Eliminator? Is the Eliminator merely a method of picking a winner every week? Is the Eliminator some sort of supercomputer somewhere designed specifically to predict the outcomes of NASCAR races? Do I keep the Eliminator locked in a storage closet deep in the bowels of ESPN headquarters?

The answer is, whatever happens to be funniest and fits that week's article. Please don't make me choose. The truth is, there's a little bit of Eliminator in all of us … or something like that.

But what if you read this more just to follow my inane ramblings at the beginning of each article before I get down to business (also known as "bidness")?

Well, as you can see at the bottom of the article, I work mainly as a studio researcher at ESPN. I put together graphics and information for the show and answer any questions the anchors have. I also do a little secret-agent work on the side.

OK, one of those isn't true. But don't you think a show about an ESPN researcher by day, secret agent by night, would be awesome? ABC, you can have first crack at this. You know how to reach me, since we're all on the same e-mail system.

So, in case my TV career takes off in the next couple of weeks, cherish these articles. It's time to find ourselves a winner, but first …

Trivia break! Jimmie Johnson takes a potent 149-point lead into Atlanta. No driver in Cup Series history in the modern points era has lost that big a lead with four races remaining. Who holds the record for the biggest points comeback with just four to go?

Let's start things off with this blockbuster. No driver in Cup Series history has won the fall Atlanta race while racing in either the Nationwide or Truck Series event in the same weekend. That takes out the 12 drivers who are working overtime this week.

Next up, let's look at a recent race on a 1.5-mile track. The past seven fall winners at Atlanta all finished no worse than 14th in the series's last race at Charlotte. That takes out another 23 and leaves us with just 11 in the running.

The magic number seems to be seven. The past seven Atlanta winners overall finished in the top nine in the most recent California race. Another seven are out, leaving us with four.

Let's finish this out in style. Atlanta tends to have some great repeat runs. In fact, the past five winners of the fall race finished in the top five in the spring race. That takes out our last three, Kahne, Harvick and our faithful points leader, Jimmie Johnson, giving us our winner.

Trivia break! In 1992, Alan Kulwicki came from 144 points back, in third place behind Bill Elliott and Davey Allison, to win his first and only Cup Series title.

Maybe this is the weekend to start erasing some of that points deficit. This weekend, The Eliminator's going with The Biff, Greg Biffle. Remember, the numbers don't lie.

Eliminator breakdown
  1. No fall Atlanta winner has ever raced in the Nationwide or Truck Series race in the same weekend (12 drivers eliminated, 34 remaining).
    Drivers eliminated: Marcos Ambrose, Clint Bowyer, Kyle Busch, Carl Edwards, Denny Hamlin, Travis Kvapil, Joey Logano, Chad McCumbee, Ryan Newman, David Ragan, David Reutimann, Scott Speed.

  2. The past seven fall Atlanta winners finished in the top 14 in the last Charlotte race (23 drivers eliminated, 11 remaining).
    Drivers eliminated: AJ Allmendinger, Dave Blaney, Bryan Clauson, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Bill Elliott, David Gilliland, Robby Gordon, Sam Hornish Jr., Matt Kenseth, Bobby Labonte, Casey Mears, Paul Menard, Juan Pablo Montoya, Joe Nemechek, Tony Raines, Scott Riggs, Elliott Sadler, Johnny Sauter, Ken Schrader, Regan Smith, Reed Sorenson, Brian Vickers, Michael Waltrip.

  3. The past seven Atlanta winners finished in the top nine in the last California race (seven drivers eliminated, four remaining).
    Drivers eliminated: Jeff Burton, Kurt Busch, Jeff Gordon, Mark Martin, Jamie McMurray, Tony Stewart, Martin Truex Jr.

  4. The past five fall Atlanta winners finished in the top five in the spring race (three drivers eliminated, one remaining).
    Drivers eliminated: Kevin Harvick, Jimmie Johnson, Kasey Kahne.

  5. And your winner is: Greg Biffle.

Matt Willis is a studio researcher at ESPN.

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