Updated: October 1, 2012, 5:37 PM ET

Will Talladega shuffle the Chase deck?

Blount By Terry Blount

Only three races into the 2012 Chase, it looks like a three-man show -- Brad Keselowski, Jimmie Johnson and Denny Hamlin.

But the potential equalizer is up next, the one place where the contenders can fall and the pretenders can get back in it.

Talladega -- the always dangerous, always unpredictable and almost always surprising stop among the 10 playoff races.

"For the first time in my career, I'm really looking forward to going to Talladega," Matt Kenseth said. "We've led a lot of laps at all three plate races [in 2012]. If there is some trouble, hopefully we can take advantage of that for Greg [Biffle] and I, and gain some points."

Kenseth made that comment Friday at Dover, not knowing it would become even more necessary after he finished 35th Sunday to find himself last in the 12-man Chase, 72 points behind leader and race winner Brad Keselowski.

It's also true for Biffle, his Roush Fenway Racing teammate, who finished 16th and ranks 11th in the Chase, 51 points behind.

"Well, it's pretty much a stretch for us right now," Biffle said of his title chances. "We need a lot of help at Talladega and a few other racetracks to try and leapfrog back in. The thing is, there are so many guys ahead of us. It's not like there are two or three that we need to catch up to; it's a whole mess of them, so it's a pretty tall order to beat all of those guys by six positions seven races in a row. That's gonna be hard."

But the always-looming big wreck at Talladega can ruin the day for any driver, so it's likely to be the one playoff event where the leaders could falter and the trailers could catch a break.

"It's frustrating because you can end up in a wreck no matter what you do," Jeff Gordon said of trying to avoid calamity at Talladega. "I don't think there is a set strategy that works the best. If there was, everybody would be doing it.

"You just do what you feel is right and hope you don't get caught up in it. We love the fact that drafting can be fun and the finish can be exciting, but what is completely unknown is when and how [the big wreck] is going to happen."

Gordon is the best example of how difficult it is to move up in the Chase standings once you fall behind. He finished second Sunday and was third a week earlier at New Hampshire, but Gordon lost one point in the standings to the leader. He is in 10th place, 48 points behind Keselowski, mainly due to finishing 35th in the Chase opener at Chicagoland Speedway.

Even Jimmie Johnson's three finishes of two second-place showings and fourth on Sunday isn't good enough to lead the standings. He is five points behind Keselowski, who has two victories and a sixth-place finish.

But everyone gets one wild shot at reworking the standings in the playoff's only restrictor-plate race.

Only one problem: Keselowski is pretty good on the giant 2.6-mile oval. He has two Talladega victories, including earlier this year, and has finished in the top 10 in three of the last four Talladega races.

But he also crashed and finished 34th in a 2010 race at Talladega and finished 33rd in the spring race there last year.

"You can do everything right all day long and still get caught up in it on the last lap," Gordon said. "That's what none of us really like about Talladega. But if we are going to have any shot at moving up and have any shot at the championship, we do look at Talladega as an opportunity."

Almost anyone can win, and anyone can finish last. That means one last chance for Kenseth, Biffle and Gordon, the guys at the bottom of the Chase.

David Newton: Keselowski a Chase monster | Live! rewind | Recap | Results | Highlights

Nationwide Series: Time for Logano to step it up in the Cup series too

With his win Saturday at Dover, Joey Logano now has seven victories in only 17 Nationwide Series starts this year. That's five more victories than his entire four-year Cup career (140 starts).

There's a saying in baseball that some guys have Triple-A talent, meaning they are stars in the minors but can't get it done in the big leagues.

It's time for Logano to get it done in the big leagues when he gets a fresh start next season in the No. 22 Ford for Penske Racing.

Elliott Sadler finished fourth Saturday to increase his series lead to nine points over Ricky Stenhouse Jr., who finished ninth.

Danica Patrick had a decent showing, finishing on the lead lap in 16th. But let's take a closer look at Danica's first full season in the series.

Patrick ranks 11th overall. She is 10th among the 13 drivers who have competed in every event. Joe Nemechek ranks three points ahead of her with one fewer start.

And consider this little stat: Patrick has two top-10s and averages scoring 24.1 points per race. JR Motorsports teammate Cole Whitt, 21, is seventh in the standings with 12 top-10s. He averages 30.1 points per race.

And 20-year-old rookie Johanna Long, who has raced in 18 of 28 starts, is averaging 22.1 points per start (only two less than Patrick) in lesser equipment, to say the least.

Brant James: Another so-so day for Danica | Recap | Results | Highlights

Camping World Truck Series: Piquet earns big win; championship race stays tight

A one-point difference with five races to go is all that separates Camping World Truck Series leader Ty Dillon from James Buescher in the standings. And Timothy Peters isn't out of it yet, only 24 points back in third.

But the story of the weekend at Las Vegas Motor Speedway was Nelson Piquet Jr., who made a last-lap pass on Matt Crafton to earn his second CWTS victory of the year.

Piquet also won the Nationwide Series road race this year at Road America. That makes Piquet and Chase driver Clint Bowyer the only drivers this season who have won races on both a road course and an oval.

Here's the best thing the CWTS has over the Nationwide Series: Only two of 17 CWTS races have been won by Cup drivers, while 14 of 28 Nationwide races this season have been won by Cup regulars.

Recap | Results

Terry Blount is a senior writer for ESPN.com. He can be reached at terry@blountspeak.com.


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