And then there were three

Published 12:00 am Saturday, August 26, 2006

And then there were three. Only three races remain before we know the ten drivers and teams that will compete for the cup championship.

After the race in Michigan last week, it appears, barring some unusual and crazy happenings over the next three weeks, that eight teams are competing for seven spots in the top-ten.

Jimmie Johnson and Matt Kenseth can sew up spots in the chase by posting solid finishes at Bristol this week. Kevin Harvick looks to be solid, but must finish the next three races. From fourth to 11th position, it’s game on.

Only 138 points separate Mark Martin in fourth to Kasey Kahne in 11th. With such a scant points difference, anything can happen. Ask Jeff Burton how far you can fall in one race. Burton fell from fourth to ninth in the points by posting a 42nd at Michigan last week.

The only driver outside the current top-ten that has a realistic shot is Kasey Kahne. He trails Dale Earnhardt, Jr. for tenth place by only 49 points. Greg Biffle in 12th and Kurt Busch in 13th have an outside shot, but the stars need to align big time for those guys to race into the top-ten.

Considering that the current top 11 drivers have a combined 30 victories at the next three tracks, Biffle and Busch’s chances don’t look good. That being said, two of those three races will be at short-tracks where anything can happen.

Carl Edwards is guy that is hard not to like. When he burst on the scene, taking over an unsponsored car from Jeff Burton two years ago, he was a breath of fresh air.

The back flip was a cool trademark for Edwards and who would have guessed that he would win four races and finish third in the final standings last year?

But he is quickly becoming a whiner along the same lines of the Busch brothers or a Kevin Harvick of several years ago.

The stunt he pulled after the Busch race at Michigan last week was ill-conceived and downright wrong. I find no fault for being mad and upset after getting wrecked, but to intentionally hit another competitor with a race-car on the cool down lap, it goes to another level.

If you saw the footage from inside Junior’s car, you know what I mean.

With Junior’s hand hanging out the window, Edwards could have easily ended Earnhardt’s career, if not cause serious injury.

To top it off, to go into victory lane to gripe is against driver protocol and very well could have been dealt with much more severely had it been another driver. That kind of stunt would not have happened 10 or 15 years ago.

My favorite race of the year is this week. The annual night race at Bristol is my idea of perfect entertainment. A half-mile, outrageously high-banked track with 43 of the best drivers in the world driving around it in 15 seconds…how much better could it be?

One thing to count on this week, some of the top-drivers will have bad finishes, it’s inevitable. You will also see some lost tempers at Bristol, that too is inevitable. Remember, after the spring race, which Kurt Busch won, Jeff Gordon pulled a Ric Flair on Matt Kenseth with the chop to the chest.

Speaking of Busch, he seems to be the man to beat here. He has won five of the last nine races at Bristol and really needs to win this week if he has any chance to compete for the championship. Picking a winner of this race is like picking names out of a hat, but my pick this week is Dale Earnhardt, Jr. I think Junior also wins at Richmond in two weeks, putting himself solidly in the chase.

Cook something on the grill and sit back and enjoy the race.