The dirty dozen of NASCARs top points winning drivers has been officially set and the sport’s playoff, the Chase, is set to begin. For fans that’ve been waiting since February for the Final Sprint Cup odds to be worked out, this day couldn’t come soon enough.
Heading into the final race of the NASCAR regular season there wasn’t a lot of surprise in regard to which drivers would be included in the select final Sprint Cup betting competition. Ten of the 12 positions had already been captured by the top points winners through the first 25 races of the season and only two open positions remained in the Final Sprint Cup odds field.
On Sunday those final two spots were set when Jeff Burton and Clint Bowyer did just enough to clinch a spot in the sport’s post season and dash the hope of the rest of the drivers on the bubble. Notable drivers that won’t be battling it out in the Chase this year included Ryan Newman, Jamie McMurray, Mark Martin and Juan Pablo Montoya, all of whom had a chance to get in on Sunday but simply couldn’t do it.
The biggest omission on the list of drivers in this year’s Chase is Dale Jr. has struggled big time over the past two years and the weight of being the biggest star in the sport and pressures of driving in his father’s shadow no doubt have taken their toll.
But of the drivers who qualified for the final Sprint Cup betting competition it’s tough to call a winner. Four-time defending champion Jimmie Johnson certainly has to be among the favorites. He enters the 2010 Chase second place in the point’s standings (5050) just 10 points less than the regular season point’s leader (Denny Hamlin 5060 points). Johnson is quite simply the best driver out there right now and has without a doubt the best crew in the sport in his pit.
Four-time champ Jeff Gordon has also ran well this year and certainly knows how to win a title once he’s in the Chase. The wildcard in the this field is Kyle Busch who can win any race on any day and has shown a new maturity this season that could translate into his first NASCAR title this year.