The Chase isn't perfect

DEAN MCNULTY, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 10:31 AM ET

For the first time since the NASCAR Sprint Cup Chase for the Championship was instituted in 2004 to make certain that winning races was paramount to being title holder, the series has four potential champions without a victory this season.

The four -- Carl Edwards, Juan Pablo Montoya, Greg Biffle and Ryan Newman -- are all capable of putting 10 good races together to claim the big prize.

Keep in mind Matt Kenseth's 2003 title year, in which he won just one race out of 36 yet led the championship for 34 of 36 races.

If that happens again, does Brian France, who gave birth and nurtured the Chase concept after the Kenseth fiasco, have to come up with yet another formula to declare a Sprint Cup winner?

Chase numbers

NASCAR Sprint Cup ends its regular season this week with the Chevy Rock 'n Roll 400 at Richmond International Raceway.

It will be the final chance to make the 10-race Chase for the Championship that begins next week at New Hampshire.

Four drivers -- Tony Stewart, Jeff Gordon, Jimmie Johnson and Denny Hamlin -- have clinched spots in the 12-driver sprint to the Cup.

Eleven others still are mathematically in contention for the remaining eight spots. According to NASCAR public relations gurus, these are the scenarios to be sorted out:

Carl Edwards (fifth overall, driving the No. 99 car) is 105 points ahead of 13th place. Regardless of any other driver's finish, he will clinch if he finishes 24th or better; 25th and leads at least one lap or 27th and leads the most laps.

Kasey Kahne (sixth overall, No. 9 car) is 96 points ahead of 13th place. Regardless of any other driver's finish, he will clinch if he finishes 21st or better; 23rd and leads at least one lap or 24th and leads most laps.

Kurt Busch (seventh overall, No. 2 car) is 95 points ahead of 13th place. Regardless of any other driver's finish, he will clinch if he finishes 20th or better; 22nd and leads at least one lap or 24th and leads most laps.

Juan Pablo Montoya (eighth overall, No. 42 car) is 88 points ahead of 13th place. Regardless of any other driver's finish, he will clinch if he finishes 18th or better; 20th and leads at least one lap or 21st and leads the most laps.

Ryan Newman (ninth overall, No. 39 car) is 81 points ahead of 13th place. Regardless of any other driver's finish, he will clinch if he finishes 16th or better; 17th and leads at least one lap or 19th and leads the most laps.

Mark Martin (10th overall, No. 5 car) is 69 points ahead of 13th place. Regardless of any other driver's finish, he will clinch if he finishes 12th or better; 14th and leads at least one lap or 15th and leads the most laps.

Greg Biffle (11th overall, No. 16 car) is 68 points ahead of 13th place. Regardless of any other driver's finish, he will clinch if he finishes 11th or better; 13th and leads at least one lap or 15th and leads the most laps.

Matt Kenseth (12th overall, No. 17 car) is 20 points ahead of 13th place. Regardless of any other driver's finish, he will clinch if he finishes second and leads at least one lap.

Brian Vickers (13th overall, No. 83 car) sits 17 points ahead of Kyle Busch. Vickers would need to gain 21 points on Kenseth and stay ahead of Busch to clinch a Chase spot.

Kyle Busch (14th overall, No. 18 car), 37 points behind 12th, needs to gain 17 points on Vickers and 37 points on Kenseth to clinch.

David Reutimann (15th overall, No. 00 car), 132 points behind Kenseth, has an outside shot at clinching. He would have to gain 133 points on Kenseth.

A maximum of 161 points can be made up in any race.

Finish lines

Lots of folks in the world of Formula 1 are holding their noses at the stench of possible corruption at Giancarlo Fisichella being named to take over injured Felipe Massa's seat at Ferrari a week after he finished an improbable second to new teammate Kimi Raikkonen at the European Grand Prix in a previously under-powered Force India car ... Four-time Champ Car World Series champion Sebastien Bourdais bounced back from his F-1 firing to win the Superleague Formula Super Final at Estoril, Portugal, on Sunday, taking home the $145,095 US for his first place finish ... Looks like Danica Patrick will dabble in stock cars after all in 2010, while running a full schedule for Andretti Green Racing in the IndyCar series. Tony Stewart claims that Patrick will drive some Stewart-Haas Racing prepared Chevrolet Silverados in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series and Chevrolet Impalas in the NASCAR Nationwide Series ... Scott Dixon will return to the cockpit of the de Ferran Motorsports XM Acura ARX-02a for ALMS Petit Le Mans Sept. 26. The reigning IndyCar champion will be driving with team owner Gil de Ferran and Simon Pagenaud.

DEAN.MCNULTY@SUNMEDIA.CA


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