There is no doubt about it, Tony Stewart is proving he is a force to be reckoned with on the race track. With an extraordinary five wins out of the last seven races, Stewart has charged his way to the top of the points. The Home Depot's ability to dominate week in and week out has netted Stewart 1,431 points over the last eight races. This is slamming the door on many drivers outside of the top ten who had hopes of making it into the Chase by being within the 400 point window.There is also no doubting that the change in the NEXTEL Cup points system, which was implemented by NASCAR in 2004, is shaking things up.
One of the big questions this season is whether Jeff Gordon will make it into the 2005 Chase for the Championship. Gordon is currently in 13th place, which is 67 points behind the 10th place driver, Carl Edwards. The 24 team has planned tests at Michigan, Bristol and Richmond in hopes they can turn their season around and finish in the top 10.It will be interesting to watch Jamie McMurray over the next four races. Currently in 9th place, McMurray is the only Ganassi driver with a chance of making it into the Chase for the Championship. McMurray is going to do everything within his power to ensure he doesn't repeat last years 11th place finish which left him out of the running for the Chase.
The pressure is on Elliott Sadler and Yates teammate Dale Jarrett. These two drivers are in a tie, merely three points outside of 10th place. These drivers need perfect pit stops and flawless cars for each of the next four races to take a place among the top ten. No one should count Childress racer Kevin Harvick out of the running, yet. Sitting in 14th place and 70 points outside of the top ten, Lady Luck can easily escort Harvick into the much coveted top ten standings.
The last four races leading up to the Chase are going to be worth watching. Mistakes here and there, a blown tire, or a speeding on pit row penalty will cost deeply, and can easily rattle around positions 7 through 14. So who will make the Chase for the Championship? It will all be decided at the Chevy Rock & Roll 400 night race at Richmond International Speedway on September 10th..by Wendy Jackson for RacerWeek.com.
Wendy Jackson is a freelance writer who covers the NASCAR Nextel Cup series for RacerWeek.com. You can join in with Wendy and other auto sport fans online at http://www.
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By: Wendy Jackson