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 #8 and #7 positions, Brian Vickers and Kyle Busch.
Brian Vickers - Rusty makes no bones about the fact that he doesn't like Vickers as far as he can spit. Memories of Talladega will always haunt me. That aside, what Team Red Bull has done with the 83 car this year is nothing short of amazing. Vickers has only 2 career wins in Cup, and neither was a dominant victory. Needless to say this is Vickers first year in the Chase, and as I've been saying, that doesn't bode well for the championship. Vickers is the first driver I've reviewed with a win, so that does give him a head up on at least 4 other drivers. But call it a gut feeling, Rusty just doesn't see a serious title contender in the #83 team. However, Vickers will challenge for a few wins, and might even win another race. He'll have an off day or two, though, and that'll be enough to keep him somewhere around his current points position.
Position before Ranking: 12
Rusty's Power Ranking: 11
Kurt Busch - The driver of the blue deuce presents an interesting case, and one that goes against Rusty's typical consistency song and dance. Busch has had 2 DNF's in the last month (Michigan and Atlanta). When Kurt's not running towards the front, he's running towards the back . . . way back! He's won a race and tallied 7 top 5's, but has also finished worse than 20th 6 times; 4 of those worse than 30th. It's been an up and down year for the #2 team. Like Vickers, he will run up front and challenge for some wins in the Chase, but without the needed consistency, Busch will not be up front in the standings. If he's still in the hunt when they get to Dega, I'll be surprised. If can get through Dega, then he just might have a shot at his second title, and first at Penske, but I wouldn't bet on it.
Position before Richmond: 7
Rusty's Power Ranking: 8
Tomorrow: #6 Jeff Gordon, #5 Kasey Kahne