Is the 2013 NASCAR Chase for the Sprint Cup already down to a three-man race only two races into the NASCAR postseason to decide the 2013 Sprint Cup Series champion? That depends on who you ask. According to a lot of the media and other prognosticators, it is. If you ask at least most of the other 10 drivers in the Chase behind frontrunners Matt Kenseth, Kyle Busch and Jimmie Johnson, no, there are still at least several drivers in the running for the Cup. As a matter-of-fact, Greg Biffle, who is fifth in points, is pretty adamant about the fact that it’s still more than a three-man race.
Actually, I think Biffle, earlier this week, referred to those proclaiming that the Chase is down to three drivers as stupid. Well, I don’t remember if stupid was the exact words he used, but his statement was something to that effect.
Pretty much all 13 drivers still have a mathematical shot at winning the championship, but there’s a big difference between having a mathematical shot and a realistic shot, otherwise known as a snowball’s chance in you know where.
So maybe Biffle’s right. Maybe this Chase hasn’t already been whittled down to a three-driver battle for the championship, but if it’s not, it’s pretty close. I’m not sure that I would consider anymore than the top-four still in this title hunt, and that would exclude Biffle, anyway, since he’s back in fifth.
And really, it’s somewhat of a struggle to consider Carl Edwards, the driver holding down the fourth spot, as still championship-eligible. After all, he’s 36 points back behind three drivers that at least have some momentum on their side. In the case of Kenseth, the leader, he’s riding a great big ole wave of momentum as winner of both of the Chase races so far. As for Busch, he’s finished second the last two weeks and has four wins this season — not too shabby. Johnson may not exactly have momentum on his side, as he headed into the Chase with finishes outside the top-25 in four-consecutive races, with three of those four being outside the top-35. But he has since recovered to at least finish in the top-five in both Chase races already completed. And like Busch, Johnson did head into the Chase with four wins.
Edwards does have two wins this season, with one of those two wins coming in the final “regular season” race at Richmond (Va.) International Raceway earlier this month. So, okay, I think I can seriously consider Edwards is a championship contender. But that’s as far as I’m going. I think I’m already ready to stick a fork in the rest of them.
Biffle’s only two points behind Edwards, so he’s close to his Roush Fenway Racing teammate (Edwards) as far as championship points go, but he has one extra driver to leap frong, and when those drivers are the aforementioned top-three, that’s a pretty lofty task. I’m not so sure it’s one Biffle is equipped to tackle right now, especially when you consider that Biffle’s coming off just his first top-five finish since Michigan, and that was awhile ago.
So, sorry Biffle. I’ll admit that this whole championship battle thing isn’t quite a three-man race yet, but it’s getting there. I’ll give this to you — I think you’re right in saying that it’s not down to three drivers, but I have to say that I think you and everyone behind you are out of it. It may not be down to three yet, but I’m ready to cut it to four.
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BUT FIRST, CHECK OUT THIS PHOTO GALLERY OF CHASE HOPEFULS (photos courtesy of Getty Images for NASCAR):