Sunday, September 13, 2009

The Chase Is On!

The wait is over and the Chase is on. And one look at the names of the 2009 contenders and you'll see it's rife with potential storylines. Read on for this fan's take on who's in, who's out and more:

Montoya Makes the Cut: As the first international driver to make the Chase for the Sprint Cup, Juan Pablo Montoya deserves some props. His solid run has also been a godsend for Earnhardt-Ganassi racing which sure did need this bright spot in what has been an otherwise dim season.

A Worst First for Matt K: In case you missed the first few hundered times race pundits mentioned it, this is the first Chase Matt the Brat will miss. Not cool buddy, not cool.

The Stewart-Haas Coup: When the season starts with your teammate smacking into you during Daytona 500 practice, it would be easy to get a little down about your 2009 prospects. But Stewart-Haas has come a long way baby since that sunny day in February. In Smoke's debut year as an owner-driver, both of his cars have made it into the Chase. Yes, Stewart's partnership with Hendrick Motorsports has paid dividends. But I think good ol' Tony might have just a little something to do with his teams' magical season.

Vick Under Pressure: Like Montoya, Brian Vickers has never been here before-at least at the Cup level. Let's not forget, Vick won a Busch Series Championship in 2003 for Hendrick Motorsports. And judging by the way he raced last night, it looks like BV can handle the pressure.

Richard Childress Racing: In 2008, the folks at RCR could boast that all three of their Cup teams made it into the Chase. What a difference a year makes. Take a look at the 2009 Chasers and you'll find nary a Childress driver on the list. Neither Harvick, nor Bowyer, nor Burton, nor Mears. I'm sure I'm not the only race fan wondering what happened...I'm just hoping it doesn't happen again in 2010.

Bring On the Kid!: I'll say it before and I'll say it again, Mark "The Kid" Martin has the opportunity to make a lifelong dream come true and score his first Sprint Cup Championship for Hendrick Motorsports. He's sittin' pretty right now. And if he can hang on to his lead and keep his eyes on the prize, there will be legions of armchair crew chiefs who might shed a few happy tears come Homestead.

Where's Rowdy?: Kyle Busch. He's the villain. The bad boy. The driver fans love to hat. The phenom. Whatever you call him and whatever your personal feelings for the younger Busch bro, something ain't right when the co-winningest driver in 2009 is absent from the Chase. It sure won't be as interesting without him.

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