Cup Corner

Nextel Cup Racing Preview

On Sunday August 19th, NASCAR Nextel Cup drivers head to Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn Michigan for the running of the 3M Performance 400. 200 laps are scheduled on this two-mile superspeedway. With its wide sweeping 18-degree corners, long straightaways, and 12-degree tri-oval front stretch, there?s plenty of room to pass and plenty of speed.

As I see it, the following drivers have the best chance of pulling out a top finish on Sunday. I have compiled my ranking by analyzing drivers? success at this track and similar tracks such as California, then throwing ol? momentum into the mix by factoring in the last month of racing.

1) 20 Tony Stewart
2) 17 Matt Kenseth
3) 24 Jeff Gordon
4) 99 Carl Edwards
5) 2 Kurt Busch
6) 5 Kyle Busch
7) 16 Greg Biffle
8) 48 Jimmie Johnson
9) 11 Denny Hamlin
10) 01 Mark Martin
11) 8 Dale Earnhardt Jr.
12) 07 Clint Bowyer
13) 9 Kasey Kahne
14) 12 Ryan Newman
15) 25 Casey Mears
16) 31 Jeff Burton
17) 29 Kevin Harvick
18) 41 Reed Sorenson
19) 1 Martin Truex Jr.
20) 26 Jamie McMurray

Tony Stewart has won three of the last four races, including last Sunday?s event at Watkins Glen (N.Y.) road course. Stewart appears to be in full championship form here in late summer, and has put himself in position as one of the favorites to win a third Nextel Cup championship. With only four races remaining before the cutoff for this year?s 12-driver Chase for the Nextel Cup, Stewart has a healthy 506-point cushion over 13th-place Ryan Newman.

When the Chase begins, Stewart will be blessed with bonus points, as wins during the regular season are worth 10 points to start the final 10-race Chase. Stewart will have at least 30 bonus points to start the Chase, and he?ll look for more as the series visits Michigan, Bristol, California, and Richmond ? a slate of venues where Stewart has notched five of his 32 career Cup wins (one at Michigan, one at Bristol and three at Richmond). Stewart: ?I hope what we?ve seen in the last four races is what we?re going to see in the Chase. I hope for every four races we run, we win three of them and the other ones, I hope we run second. Obviously, there?s a lot of racing to go, and you see how easy and how quick a string can end and go just the opposite for you. We hope that we?re getting hot at the right time, and that we take the next two or three weeks and lock ourselves into the Chase to where we can, in those last couple of races, just strictly go for the win and get those extra bonus points. Then hopefully, once the Chase starts, we can be on a run like we are right now. I feel like we?re in the best position of anybody right now with what?s happened three out of the last four weeks. It?s just a matter of keeping your fingers crossed and hoping that carries on the rest of the year.?

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