Well, it's finally here. The Chase for the Nextel Cup, NASCAR's version of a playoff system. To help you prepare for the 10 week showdown, Rusty's going to give you a run down of each of the 12 drivers in the Chase, this week. Included in that ranking will be the Rusty's Power Ranking, my own personal index of who's got the best shot to win the title.
Today we look at the #10 and #9 positions, Ryan Newman and Carl Edwards.
Ryan Newman - The Rocket Ryan Newman is 1/2 of this year's surprising success story. Ryan moved from the storied Penske racing team to the newly formed driver/owner team of Tony Stewart. Apparently, the risky move paid dividends for Newman who made the Chase for the first time since 2005. I'm sure you're thinking Rusty's already sounding like a broken record, but consistency was the key for Newman. The key stat for Newman this year wasn't the poles he won, but the fact that for the first time ever running a full season in Cup, Newman has not had a DNF (hopefully HHR didn't just jinx him). This is the kind of consistency that will get a car into the Chase, but with only 5 top 5's, it's not the kind that will win a championship.
Position before Ranking: 9
Rusty's Power Ranking: 10
Carl Edwards - After racking up an amazing 9 wins last season, Mr. Ed has yet to find victory lane this year. That's not kept him out of the Chase however. By posting a respectable 7 top 5's, and 11 top 10's, Carl has run well enough to qualify for the 4th time. In fact, Carl's only missed the Chase once, in 2006, and only because at that point the Chase only included 10 drivers. Under the current rules, he would have made them all. This makes Carl tough competition. He knows how to win and he knows how to do so in the Chase. He himself has said he's faster than a greased cheetah strapped to a bullet train. That's the kind of speed needed to win this year, and ole steroid boy stands a better than not of winning it all.
Position before Ranking: 5
Rusty's Power Ranking: 5
Tomorrow: #8 Brian Vickers, #7 Kurt Busch