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Counting down to Richmond and the Chase for the Sprint Cup

 Just three races to go before the Chevy Rock and Roll 400 at Richmond will set the field for this year’s “Chase.”   With three victories in the 2009 Sprint Cup series, Kyle Busch would be near the top of the standings when the Chase for the Sprint Cup begins on September 20 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.  That’s because the Chase drivers have their points totals reset to 5000, and they get 10 bonus points for each pre-Chase victory, creating the Chase seedings.  Based on his three wins Busch would begin the Chase in second place, tied with Jimmie Johnson. Only Mark Martin, with four wins, has won more races than Kyle Busch this season.

But first, Busch has to make the Chase field and with just three races to go, that is by no means a sure thing.  Busch came into Watkins Glen last Sunday 13th in the standings, 101 points behind Greg Biffle, who holds down the 12th and final slot in this year’s Chase.  If it’s all about winning you would be hard pressed to determine that by the drivers who will compete for this year’s championship.  Four of the 12 drivers who currently would be in the Chase, Carl Edwards, Juan Pablo Montoya, Ryan Newman and Greg Biffle, have yet to win a race this season.  
In addition, Brian Vickers, Clint Bowyer, and David Reutiman are within 20 points of Busch, looking to leap-frog their way into the Chase.  Reutiman knows how difficult making the Chase can be. He was running in contention in the rain delayed race at Pocono Raceway a week ago Monday, when he tangled with eventual race winner Denny Hamlin and finished 29th,  falling from 13th to 16th in the points standings.  
Brad Keselowski’s options
 The options for where talented newcomer Brad Keselowski will land next season are decreasing by the week. Meanwhile time is getting short for a team to line up sponsorship and promotional pre-planning for adding a new driver, not to mention the lousy economy, that has potential sponsors running for cover.  One often mentioned possibility was for Keselowski to drive a third car for Stewart-Haas Racing in 2010.
 Asked about Stewart-Haas Racing adding a third car during this past weekend’s race at Watkins Glen Tony Stewart said, “I don’t think we’ve ruled that out yet.  It’s getting to the point in the season that if we’re going to do a third team and have a third team for next season it would have to happen pretty quickly.  At least having the sponsor and driver lined up to make sure that we have an adequate amount of time to get all the tools and pieces in place for next year. But I would say it’s not very likely right now.”
ESPN reported Keselowski may have only one option if he wants to drive full time in a Hendrick Motorsports supported Cup car in 2010 - Phoenix Racing.  Dale Earnhardt Jr. recently said it is doubtful his Nationwide Series team supported by Hendrick Motorsports would move up to the Sprint Cup Series.  Red Bull Racing general manager Jay Frye, on the chance that his team moves to Chevrolet, with Hendrick support, said he was not interested in adding an additional team.  
That leaves Phoenix Racing, which is running 10 races with Keselowski as driver with Hendrick Motorsports providing engines, chassis and tech support this season. It was a Phoenix racing Chevrolet that Brad Keselowski drove to his first Sprint Cup win earlier this year in the spring race at Talladega.  Keselowski said he has several options, but most would involve him leaving the Hendrick Motorsports umbrella.
It seems the best opportunity if he were to leave the Hendick organization would be Penske Racing.  The problem with that is Penske runs Dodges, and it is unlikely that he could continue to drive a Chevrolet for Dale Jr. on the Nationwide Series.   It is pretty obvious that Brad would like to stay with Hendrick.  Trouble is that with NASCAR’s mandate that any team can only field a maximum of four teams, unless Mark Martin retires, there is no room at the Inn.   
You may reach Pete Barber at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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