Breaking down the winners and the losers of the Chase
Jimmie Johnson, Greg Biffle and Jeff Burton are the winners during the Chase
Carl Edwards didn't just wreck his own Chase chances, he wrecked Biffle's as well
Burton has been more competitive this year than some of the flashiest drivers
Jimmie Johnson: Has he proven his point yet? After his victory at Martinsville last weekend, JJ now has 13 career wins in the Chase, the most of any driver. The man is NASCAR's Mr. October.
Greg Biffle: Welcome back, sir. The man who nearly won a championship in 2005 has been missing from serious title discussions ever since. But with two victories to open this year's Chase, he is totally and completely back. And if Carl Edwards hadn't wrecked Biffle at Talladega, Johnson might not have things quite so sewn up. For now, Biffle will have to console himself with a redemptive season and dreams of next year.
Jeff Burton: He might not ever win a Cup, but the steady Burton has been more competitive this year than some of the flashiest and winningest names in the sport. His only blemish so far is the 17th-place finish he posted last week at Martinsville.
Kyle Busch: What happened? The No. 18 team had been nearly perfect all season, then gacked away a championship in the first two races of the Chase. I don't know why this isn't getting more hype as one of the biggest collapses in recent sports history.
Carl Edwards: He didn't just end Biffle's title hopes at Talladega, but his own, as well. The following week at Charlotte, he played a starring role in a skit right out of a high-school farce, complete with name-calling, note-leaving and a pushing match that was more about hurt feelings than anything to do with racing.
Jeff Gordon: The four-time champ hasn't been bad at all in the Chase. But much like the entire season, he hasn't been a threat to win, either, which means that he and crew chief Steve Letarte still haven't fixed their problems with the new car...which I take to be a very, very bad sign for next season. Teammate Jimmie Johnson is on his way to a third straight championship, and he will have done it driving, basically, three different cars: the old model, last year's mix of old and new, and this year's new model.
HOW TO DRIVE
Atlanta Motor Speedway
Dale Earnhardt Jr. shares his thoughts on racing at Atlanta: "I like running at Atlanta a lot. It's a good racetrack and real, real fast. We've run really well there in the past and coming off a good run like Martinsville last week, I think we have a good shot at winning it. We finished third there in the spring. A win would be great, but I really just want to keep running as good as we did last week."
4: Number of wins that Carl Edwards has at the final four tracks in the Chase (Atlanta, Texas, Phoenix and Homestead)
4: Number of wins that Greg Biffle has at the remaining four tracks in the Chase
Oct. 30, 2005: Carl Edwards leads 115 laps en route to victory in the Bass Pro Shops MBNA 500 at Atlanta. The win is his second of the season at Atlanta, but not his last of the season. He goes on to win at Texas the following week.