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 #1 position, Mark Martin.
Mark Martin - If Tony Stewart was the success story of 2009, Mark Martin is the comeback story for this year. Mark Martin retired a few years back. Then at the behest of his long time owner, Jack Roush, he came back. Then he moved teams and ran a partial schedule. Finally, he signed a contract with Rick Hendrick to drive for a full season. He was going to make one more run at the title. Well, what a run it's been. Mark has a series high 4 wins this year. Now, heading into the Chase, he finds himself at the top of the points and poised to take home his first title. The consummate bridesmaid, Mark has done nearly everything in NASCAR but won the Cup championship. It's this fact, and this fact only that Rusty's ranked him behind Tony and Jimmie in the power ranking.
I attribute a lot of Mark's success this year to his attitude. I have never seen someone so happy to be driving a race car. In stark contrast to his teammate in the 88, who seems like he wants to be anywhere else, Mark is just happy. This relaxed attitude and the resources of the best team in the sport has led to Mark's success. Looking forward to the Chase, Mark has every right to continue to feel positive. He's already won at one of the Chase tracks (Phoenix) and he's won at a track very similar to several of the Chase tracks. Chicagoland is very similar to Kansas, Lowe's and Texas. If Mark's able to take home the crown after Homestead, it will truly be the best sports story in 2009. He's got the talent, he's got the equipment, he's got the right attitude. Will he do it? The mystery will start to unravel itself in New Hampshire . . . BOOGITY BOOGITY BOOGITY!!!
Position before Richmond: 10
Rusty's Power Ranking: 3