Sunday, September 13, 2009

Rusty Reckons: The Chase Rundown

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 start with the #12 and #11 positions, Greg Biffle and Juan Pablo Montoya.

Greg Biffle - The Biff must be eating his Wheaties. Since the Brickyard, the #16 team has rolled off 3 top 5's and 4 top 10's. Looking ahead, there are several tracks where Biffle seems to excel. First, no one seems to have quite the handle on Homestead like the bug-eyed-dummy. In his career, Biffle has won the final race of the season three times, and only finished higher than 20th, twice. The day late and dollar short philosophy hasn't won him a title, yet, but add that to the fact that he runs well at Richmond, and hasn't finished outside the top 10 at Dover since 2005, and Biffle stands a good shot at continuing his upward trend. Rusty gives him a bit of a long shot to win it all, but that's more a function of the drivers at the top than a reflection of a lack of talent from the #16 team.

Position before Richmond: 11
Rusty's Power Ranking: 9

Juan Pablo Montoya - In his 3rd full season in NASCAR, JPM has finally qualified for the chase. The #42 team focused on making the Chase this year. His conservative driving paid dividends, and Montoya has rattled off 12 top 10's and 2 top 5's this year. If it weren't for an untimely pit mistake at the Brickyard, JPM would have a win this year. He completely dominated the field in Indy, leading a race high 116 of 160 laps that afternoon. Regardless, this is his first year in the Chase. Without any previous experience, and facing a few tracks where JPM hasn't fared well, I would give him about the same odds as the Detroit Lions for winning the Super Bowl.

Position before Richmond: 8
Rusty's Power Ranking: 12

Tomorrow: #10 Ryan Newman, #9 Carl Edwards

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