Who will make the chase?

Published 12:00 am Saturday, September 9, 2006

One of my philosophies in life is to worry about only things that you have control over and let the other pieces fall where they may. The only thing that Kasey Kahne can control is his own performance and hope that the other drivers have problems and bad finishes.

He did just that at California last week. Kahne led the most laps, earning himself ten bonus points, and won the race.

In the process, he gained 60 points in his effort to make the chase for the championship. Going into California, Kahne trailed tenth place Mark Martin by 90 points. After the win, he now trails tenth place Jeff Burton by 30 points.

After his mid-season slump, Kahne has put himself in a great position going into Richmond, the site of his first career victory last season. The Chevy Rock and Roll 400 Saturday night will be a great show where any driver in spots 3-10 could fall out of contention and those eight spots will be contested among nine drivers.

Only 147 points separate Kevin Harvick in third and Kahne in 11th position. The question becomes, who makes it and who is disappointed after the race. All of these guys seem to run well at Richmond and the majority has won a race there in the past.

Kevin Harvick is the only driver among those competing for those last spots that has a little breathing room. If Harvick finishes at least 40th, he will clinch a spot in the chase. By the very nature of short-track racing, Harvick just needs to stay out of trouble and let at least three other cars put themselves out of the race and he is in the show.

Things really get dicey from fourth on back. Both Mark Martin and Jeff Burton can clinch a spot with a fourth place finish Saturday night and Tony Stewart and ensure himself a spot with a seventh place finish.

Speaking of Mark Martin, can you imagine him racing for someone other than Jack Roush next season? Looks like it might happen.

Reports surfaced this week that Martin will take over the no.88 Robert Yates Ford next season. Of course, those reports have been denied by Martin’s camp, but I think there is some validity to the whispers.

During Speed Channel’s broadcast of qualifying at California last week, Larry McReynolds mentioned that Yates would be making an announcement soon concerning the no. 88 ride and the announcement would &uot;rock your world.&uot;

Larry Mac went on to say that Yates had agreed with &uot;one of our veteran superstars&uot; to drive that car at least for next season.

With Yates working relationship with Roush, the move makes sense. It has also been reported that Martin tried to buy Yates’ teams last season and the deal was almost done. Could this be a way for Martin to enter the world of NASCAR team ownership? Stay tuned, I think it happens.

Now, who makes the chase and who is the odd-man out? Kahne makes it on a good solid top-five run Saturday night. He is streaky driver and happens to be on a hot streak right now.

I think Jeff Burton has issues and, after an unbelievable solid season, falls out of the top-ten. Dale Jr. repeats as race winner and enters the chase fourth in the standings.

Tune in Saturday night at 7:00 on TNT and enjoy the show.