Chase berth is Clint Bowyer's to lose

September, 10, 2010

RICHMOND, Va. -- The plan for today is to make this blog better than the last one. Take more chances. Use bigger words. Type faster. Put more effort behind my keystrokes.

Sounds silly, right?

So does talk of Saturday night's Sprint Cup race being the best regular-season finale in the short history of NASCAR's playoff, because the field is all but set and nobody really has anything to lose.

Do you really think Ryan Newman can drive any harder to make up the 117-point deficit he has to Clint Bowyer in the 12th position than he has at any other point in the season? Can Kyle Busch really take more chances than normal hoping to pick up an additional 10 bonus points?

Get real.

If you set this up to be the Super Bowl of Chase deciders, then you'll probably be disappointed. This race isn't going to be any wilder than last week at Atlanta Motor Speedway or Bristol the weekend before that.

Sure, crew chiefs can take gambles on two tires or no tires and fuel mileage. Kenny Francis went with a two-tire stop here in 2004 to get Jeremy Mayfield into the lead of a race they had to win and lead the most laps to make the Chase.

It worked.

But Mayfield didn't all of a sudden inherit Jimmie Johnson's talent and drive better.

Bowyer needs to finish only 28th to clinch, but he's not going to drive any differently unless it's to protect his position at the end. As the RCR driver said Friday, "We're here to win the race."

"Drivers can't do anything [to drive faster]," Bowyer said. "If they're at this level in this sport, they're giving 100 percent."

If Bowyer is nervous, he's not showing it, because he knows this for the most part is out of his hands.

"Man, I tell you, with a 117-point lead, that's a pretty good pad," he said. "With any luck at all, with any luck at all, we'll be in this thing. If we're not, I'll just say it was not meant to be."

Points leader Kevin Harvick may be more nervous than Bowyer, knowing if he makes a mistake around his teammate it could cost RCR getting three cars into the Chase.

"I just don't even want to be near him," Harvick said with a laugh.

So how's the blog? Better than the last one?

Thought so.

David Newton | email

ESPN Staff Writer



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