By Micah Roberts
For whatever it’s worth, just because they are still mathematically alive, Ryan Newman is 117 points out, Jamie McMurray 128 points out and Mark Martin is 147 points out.
This week's race give the Chase drivers one last chance to gain bonus points for the 10-race Chase for the Championship. Every driver in the Chase will be set at 5,000 points and will have 10 bonus points added on for each of their wins during the first 26 races of the season. Currently, Jimmie Johnson and Denny Hamlin would be given 50 bonus points for their five wins on the season followed by Kevin Harvick and Kyle Busch with three wins each.
We get kind of a head start on handicapping this race because we have already seen races run on the similar tracks of Richmond, Phoenix and New Hampshire this season. The three tracks, while all different in configuration, usually mirror each other in set-ups because of the relatively flat banking. A driver that usually does well at one will do the same on the others.
The driver that stands out the most from his first go-around on the three tracks is Jeff Gordon who managed to finish within the top-four of them all. In fact Gordon probably should have won at Phoenix and Richmond, but got out drag raced at the start of the green-white-checker finish. He hasn’t won since the spring Texas race last year, but could be in line to break the winless streak Saturday night. He’ll be using his fourth-place New Hampshire chassis from late June, a car that also led 92 laps and finished third at Martinsville.
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