If he works for Roush Racing, he’s probably in severe hassle. Of the Roushketeers, who had been so dominant in 2005, the most effective motive force positive to make the Chase is Matt Kenseth, who just rattled off two straight wins and this week is returning to the song wherein he won his first race of ’06 (Fontana). Mark Martin is hanging directly to 10th place by way of his fingernails, and could lose out. Greg Biffle and Carl Edwards are darkish horses at quality, and Jamie McMurray is nowhere to be determined. Meanwhile Kasey Kahne, clearly the item of many females’ affections, is idling androgynously in 11th region. Those 3 men — Kahne, Biffle and Edwards — are the handiest three drivers currently out of doors the pinnacle 10 who are not mathematically eliminated from the Chase. But an entire mess of drivers currently inside the pinnacle 10 ought to drop out with terrible races over these next two weekends. I’m going to say that Jimmie Johnson, Kenseth (who have clinched their slots) and Kevin Harvick (who has an eighty-factor hole on fourth region) are safe. Let’s take a look at the other possibilities:

Kyle Busch: Currently: 4th location, 402 factors back. Busch has a career victory at Fontana, and is excellent at the 2-milers in trendy. And even as he hasn’t received at Richmond, he’s in no way finished out of doors the top five there, either. He’s as near a lock as you could get. Verdict: IN.

Jeff Gordon: Currently: 5th region, 408 factors lower back. You by no means quite know what you will get from Jeffy Jeff, but he seemed actually excellent on the Michigan -miler simply weeks in the past, finishing 2nd. That manner he will probably have an awesome piece this weekend, and he might also want it, due to the fact he’s completed thirtieth or worse within the final 3 Richmond events, consisting of a fortieth this summer season. Contend for the win this week, and the strain is off subsequent. Verdict: In.

Denny Hamlin: Currently: the sixth region, 429 factors again. The Rookie of the Year has been incredible on the two-milers (a 9th and 12ths this yr) and completed 2nd in his first Nextel Cup race at Richmond. Anything can happen, however, I think Hamlin’s extraordinarily safe. Verdict: IN.

Jeff Burton: Currently: 7th region, 435 points back. Burton is a testimony to the reality that fortunes trade quickly in Nextel Cup. Burton turned into a lock for the Chase as these days as a few weeks in the past, however, a popped engine at Michigan despatched him hurtling down the ranks. He led a ton of laps closing weekend at Bristol but while push got here to shove, he faded and finished ninth. The blown engine in the Irish Hills may additionally have been the first-class factor to appear to this group because it made them paintings even more difficult on this weekend’s car. The RCR Chevys have been wonderful at downforce tracks this 12 months, so I’d assume Burton to post a top-10 and give up quite a few questions. He’s passable at Richmond, even though I wouldn’t assume him to win. Verdict: IN.

Tony Stewart: Currently: 8th region, 443 factors again. The protecting Series champ had posted four immediately top-10s to get over a midseason swoon, however, he went out like a lamb at Bristol ultimate Saturday, coming 22nd after qualifying 5th. Stewart likely had the second one-high-quality vehicle at Fontana manner returned in February, however, blew an engine, so it is a little frightening, but his flat-song genius will serve him properly at Richmond subsequent week, in which he is posted 3 consecutive pinnacle-seven finishes. Verdict: IN.

Dale Earnhardt Jr.: Currently: 9th place, 448 points returned. Considering how nicely he ran in this season’s two Michigan races, and the fact that he gained the Richmond spring race, this is a no-brainer. Verdict: IN.

Mark Martin: Currently: 10th place, 450 points lower back. I assume Martin might be in trouble. It’s a disgrace because he is been nicely steady this season, however starting in early June he hit a patch that saw him fail to pinnacle the thirteenth location in 5 consecutive occasions. Lately, it is been one-race-on, one-race-off for Martin, and his 28th at Bristol last week was a killer. He’s were given a ninety-factor bulge on Kahne, a 251-factor lead over Biffle and a 261-point gap on Edwards. He’s a completely, very steady two-miler motive force, and I’d anticipate to peer him play it very conservatively and attempt to complete around the 10th place this week. But he is had a few bad Richmond races during the last few years, and at the same time, as he is as smooth as they get, a man who’s at the back of him can rip off two splendid activities and topple this apple cart. Verdict: OUT.

Kasey Kahne: Currently: 11th area, 540 points again. Kahne genuinely stored himself through finished 12th at Bristol; it is no longer certainly one of his great tracks, and the fact that he ought to get 48 points on Martin became big. Now I’d have to say Kahne is a favorite to beat Martin in each of the subsequent occasions; he finished fourth (to Martin’s ninth) in advance this yr at California, and posted his first profession win at Richmond in ’05 (although he did have engine troubles and completed four laps down there this year). If someone’s going to do it, that is going to be the fellow. I think he’s going to do it. Verdict: IN.

Greg Biffle: Currently: 12th place, 701 points back. Biffle is incredible at Fontana and Richmond; he had the excellent vehicle inside the field here lower back in February but had his engine pop, and he is were given four consecutive Richmond finishes of eighth or better. But this can definitely be too a ways to come. He can win each of these races, and if the men do not ruin right in front of him, he will nonetheless pass over the chase. Bummer. Verdict: OUT.

Carl Edwards: Currently: 13th region, 711 points back. Edwards is in addition awesome at the 2-miles (what Roush automobile is not? Positioned your hand down McMurray), however, is not as fab at Richmond. I do not suppose he is got a hazard. Verdict: OUT.

Last Week: I failed to get to watch it, however the Saturday night race at Bristol became precise to me over again, perhaps due to the fact I pimp it so mercilessly. I had Matt Kenseth as the winner, and I also took Kenseth in a head-to-head matchup. That way for the week, we profited 1. Forty-one gadgets (whilst placing 1.Five units at danger every week); for the season, we’ve got had profitable weeks 70% of the time, consisting of seven of the remaining 8, and we’ve profited a total of sixteen.01 gadgets.

Note: The following odds are preliminary; I’ll exchange ’em before the race comes on Sunday whilst the net bookmakers put up their boards. I’ll also make a head-to-head select for the week whilst the ones odds are online.

Take Matt Kenseth (+700), 1/sixth unit. Is it likely that Milwaukee Matt wins a third directly Nextel Cup event? Hell, no. But can he? Hell, yes. He has been first-rate at this song kind over the past several seasons: his common end at Michigan due to the fact that 2002 is an incredible 6.1, and he is come 7th and primary in his final two Fontana activities. Kenseth can pass balls-out due to the fact he is already clinched his spot inside the Chase, and there is no purpose to suppose that this rather smooth driving force won’t at the least contend.

Take Greg Biffle (+800), 1/sixth unit. Biffle has one alternative and one option handiest: win the following races. And he can do it. He became through far the exceptional car here this spring and had a big lead whilst his engine went bad so that you can guess on him right here really based at the “song-owes-him” concept. And even as Biffle took a step backward at a Michigan tune where he gained consecutive occasions not too long ago (he finished 7th and fourth which, believe it or now not, is a step returned), he is still the unquestioned grasp whilst the tracks get wider and the vehicles can slide into the turns. While a whole lot of the men in front of him within the standings should play it conservatively, Biffle has to go move.

Take Kyle Busch (+1200), 1/6th unit. As I stated above, the more youthful Busch is pretty much secure inside the Chase, and a top-5 finish all, however, nails it down for him this weekend. But he is gunning for more. Fontana is the website online of Busch’s first Nextel Cup win, exactly twelve months in the past. I’m also recalling that he was streaking up thru the sector at Michigan two weeks in the past while something on his car broke and he ate the wall. To me, which means the #5 crew has something figured out, and if they could hold the auto collectively, they could win right here all over again.