Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Start and Parks Might Make a Difference For Some Chasers

One-hundred and sixty-one. That’s the magic number, the amount of points any driver can make up in a race. The number inflates to 195 if a driver gets injured or fails to qualify (in this case, we aren’t talking about guys outside the top 35). I am talking about Chase contenders, those barely in and out of the top 12. Matt Kenseth, currently 9th in points, stands 152 ahead of 13th place Mark Martin, barely less than a race ahead.

So, theoretically Mark Martin could leapfrog Matt Kenseth this weekend if Kenseth were to finish last and Martin wins. Well, Martin could win – after all, he has a very impressive resume at the 2.45 mile road course. But, with the recent trend of start and parks, Kenseth is not finishing last. Even if he finds himself in a first lap wreck, his team is going to get back out on the track knowing several cars are about to retire.

We saw it get real nasty this past week at Pocono. There were at least seven legit start and parkers, which equates to twenty-one points that could be made up. That does not sound like an enormous amount, but as the Kenseth-Martin differential shows, it’s enough to make the difference as to who is in and out of the Chase going into Richmond.

Sometimes it is said all a driver has to do is start and he will clinch a spot in the Chase. This year we might be hearing that all one guy has to do is beat the start and parks and he is in. So I don’t know about you, but the magic number for me is 140.

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