The Chase - 8 Drivers, 20 Points, 1 Trophy
Daytona, Oct. 12, 2011: Bear with us as we take a stroll down “Math Class Memory Lane.” Remember ratios? To figure out how to compare this season to seasons past, it’ll help to have a refresher course. That might be the best way you can put this incredibly close championship race in perspective.
The top-eight drivers are separated by a measly 20 points. But with the new simpler point-per-position format, what does that mean, exactly?
Here’s one way to roughly explain it: Earlier this season, NASCAR levied six-point penalties for infractions that in past years would have been 25-point penalties.
So, here’s the equation: if 6 is to 25, then 20 (the differential between first and eighth right now) is to X?
In this particular equation X = 83.3.
In other words, if the points format were the same this season as in past seasons, the top eight would be separated by 83 points.
That would make this the closest Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup ever. The fewest amount of points separating first and eighth after four Chase races was 116 points in 2005. Again, this is a rough estimate.
The names involved, and the storylines surrounding each, make this even more dramatic.
Take Jimmie Johnson, for instance. At Kansas Speedway last Sunday, Johnson won his 20th career Chase race, and has now won at least one race in all eight editions of the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup, the only driver to do so. Don’t count on him slowing down. After a runner-up finish at Dover two weeks ago and the win at Kansas, a similar outcome seems likely at Charlotte on Saturday night. Johnson boasts six wins at Charlotte, tied for most all-time with NASCAR Hall of Famer Bobby Allison and Hall of Fame nominee Darrell Waltrip.
And Carl Edwards, who nabbed the points lead with an unlikely fifth-place finish at Kansas. He now holds a one-point lead over Kevin Harvick. Or Harvick, who is looking for a sweep of Charlotte after winning his first points race at the 1.5-mile track in May’s Coca-Cola 600.
There are also three past champions within 20 points – aka 20 positions – of Edwards: Tony Stewart, Kurt Busch and Matt Kenseth.
Or how about Brad Keselowski, who has embraced his “Chase rookie stripe” and trails Edwards by only 11 points. For more on Keselowski, see page two.