Friday, August 10, 2007

DEI vs. Penske Racing

by Steve Waid @

With just five races before the Chase For The Nextel Cup begins, all types of scenarios can play out.


That's because we don't yet know which 12 drivers will make the Chase and with time running out, some of them might adopt some "desperate" strategies. The outcome is certainly unpredictable.


It's pretty certain Jeff Gordon is definitely in, and I don't think there's much concern for Denny Hamlin, Matt Kenseth, Jeff Burton, Tony Stewart and a few others, either.


Where we should focus our attention is on positions 11th through 14th. The drivers there are the ones in the biggest scrap for a place in the Chase.


It's Dale Earnhardt Inc. vs. Penske Racing.


Martin Truex Jr. of DEI is 11th in points, followed by Kurt Busch of Penske, Dale Earnhardt Jr. of DEI and Penske's Ryan Newman.

The gap between Truex and Newman is just 128 points, certainly not insurmountable in five races.


Busch is just 38 points behind Truex, and he's only seven ahead of Earnhardt Jr. Newman has the most ground to make up as he's 90 points out of 12th place. Again, that can be made up in the time remaining.


Busch vaulted into 12th place after a dominating win at Pocono. Earnhardt Jr. finished second but dropped to 13th place because Busch, who had been 13 points behind Earnhardt Jr. going into the race, accumulated 20 bonus points with his victory.


Any kind of scenario could be played out over the next five weeks, but it's clear the obvious battle for a spot in the Chase is between DEI and Penske.

And it will rage right on through Richmond.


UTTERLY SHAMELESS: Listen to Steve on Fox Sports Radio's "Race Day on Fox" at 8 a.m. EDT Sunday. Check out your local Fox Sports Radio affiliate or XM Radio Channel 142.

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