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The 2009 Chase: Is it over?

We're four races into the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup, and Jeff Gordon has written his concession speech.

It goes something like this:

“Yeah, they have something magical about the final ten races. You know, these ten tracks really suit them. They do an incredible job. What else can you say? They're the best out there. They've won the last three championships. They're going to be hard to beat for this one. Really, unless they make a mistake, I don't see how they lose it.”

“They,” of course, are driver Jimmie Johnson, crew chief Chad Knaus and the rest of the #48 Hendrick Motorsports team, the outfit that — after two wins in the first four Chase races — is the odds-on choice to win a record fourth straight Cup title.

Other drivers polished off the eulogies for their Chase aspirations in Sunday's Pepsi 400 at Auto Club Speedway, where Johnson won in a romp, and Gordon fashioned a blue-collar second-place finish.

Brian Vickers' demise was a broken right rear shock tower that made his #83 Toyota handle like a pogo stick. Vickers also caught a piece of a multicar wreck on lap 245 and finished 29th. He's twelfth in the standings, 351 points behind Johnson and out of the championship picture.

Kasey Kahne saw a promising run laid to rest when Kurt Busch's runaway Dodge bounced of the turn four wall and knocked Kahne's Dodge into Greg Biffle's Ford. The lap 245 wreck delivered the coup de grace. At 306 points out of first place, Kahne also is out of contention.

Ryan Newman finished 15th after an up-and-down day that included a blown tyre on lap 81. Now 223 points behind Johnson, Newman has very little air left in his title hopes. Newman fell from ninth to 15th after the final restart on lap 248 of 250. “We had the inside lane on that last restart, and that was kind of the doom of death for us,” Newman said.

Denny Hamlin fell on his sword on a lap 190 restart, when he tried to move to the bottom of the track. One problem: Juan Pablo Montoya's Chevy was already there. With his Toyota heavily damaged, Hamlin finished 37th and took a 120-point hit in the standings. He dropped from sixth to ninth, 219 points behind Johnson. “Made contact with the nose of the 42 (Montoya) and ended up taking ourselves out,” Hamlin said. “I was just a dumb mistake.” No disagreement here.

The Chase prospects of Carl Edwards (192 points behind) and Biffle (188 back) are on life support. If you listen to the tone of resignation in Gordon's voice, however, not even Mark Martin — 12 points behind his team-mate — has much of a chance.

“We're doing everything we can to be good enough, but it's just not there,” Gordon said after moving up two spots in the standings to fifth, 105 points behind Johnson. “So we've got to search and find something. You know, we've got to be better than that. I feel like Charlotte's a good track for us (Oct. 17), and I'm looking forward to going there.


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Related Pictures

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immie Johnson (No. 48), Jeff Gordon (No. 24), Juan Pablo Montoya (No. 42) and Mark Martin (No. 5) lead the field late in Sunday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Pepsi 500 at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, Calif. Johnson went on to win the race, his second victory in the Chase, and replace Martin as the Chase leader. (Rusty Jarrett/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Dale Earnhardt, Jr., driver of the #88 National Guard Chevrolet SS finished 2nd, Jeff Gordon, driver of the #24 Drive To End Hunger Chevrolet SS finished 7th Saturday, April 12, 2014 in the NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Darlington Raceway in Darlington South Carolina. Earnhardt Jr. is 4th, Gordon is 1st in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) standings. Teammate Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser Chevrolet SS won. (Photo Credit: HHP/Alan Marler for Chevrolet)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser Chevrolet SS finished 1st, Kasey Kahne, driver of the #5 Great Clips Chevrolet SS finished 37th Saturday, April 12, 2014 in the NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Darlington Raceway in Darlington South Carolina. Harvick  is 22nd, Kahne is 23rd in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) standings. Teammates Dale Earnhardt, Jr., driver of the #88 National Guard Chevrolet SS finished 2nd and Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Kobalt Tools Chevrolet SS finished 3rd.(Photo Credit: HHP/Christa L. Thomas for Chevrolet)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser Chevrolet SS celebrates his win Saturday, April 12, 2014 in the NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Darlington Raceway in Darlington South Carolina. Harvick is 22nd in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) standings. Teammates Dale Earnhardt, Jr., driver of the #88 National Guard Chevrolet SS finished 2nd and Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Kobalt Tools Chevrolet SS finished 3rd. (Photo Credit: HHP/Tami Kelly-Pope for Chevrolet)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser Chevrolet SS celebrates his win Saturday, April 12, 2014 in the NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Darlington Raceway in Darlington South Carolina. Harvick is 22nd in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) standings. Teammates Dale Earnhardt, Jr., driver of the #88 National Guard Chevrolet SS finished 2nd and Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Kobalt Tools Chevrolet SS finished 3rd. (Photo Credit: HHP/Christa L. Thomas for Chevrolet)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser Chevrolet, races during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Bojangles` Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway on April 12, 2014 in Darlington, South Carolina. (Photo Credit: NASCAR Via Getty Images)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser Chevrolet, celebrates in Victory Lane after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Bojangles` Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway on April 12, 2014 in Darlington, South Carolina. (Photo Credit: NASCAR Via Getty Images)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser Chevrolet, celebrates in Victory Lane after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Bojangles` Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway on April 12, 2014 in Darlington, South Carolina. (Photo Credit: NASCAR Via Getty Images)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser Chevrolet, celebrates with a burnout after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Bojangles` Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway on April 12, 2014 in Darlington, South Carolina. (Photo Credit: NASCAR Via Getty Images)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser Chevrolet, takes the chequered flag to win the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Bojangles` Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway on April 12, 2014 in Darlington, South Carolina. (Photo Credit: NASCAR Via Getty Images)
The front right tire of the #27 CertainTeed/Menards Chevrolet, driven by Paul Menard, catches fire during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Bojangles` Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway on April 12, 2014 in Darlington, South Carolina. (Photo Credit: NASCAR Via Getty Images)
Aric Almirola, driver of the #43 Richard Petty Motorsports Ford, and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. in the #17 Roush Fenway Racing Ford tangle during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Bojangles` Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway on April 12, 2014 in Darlington, South Carolina. (Photo Credit: NASCAR Via Getty Images)
Cars race during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Bojangles` Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway on April 12, 2014 in Darlington, South Carolina. (Photo Credit: NASCAR Via Getty Images)
Joey Logano, driver of the #22 Shell Pennzoil Ford, and Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser Chevrolet, lead the field to start the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Bojangles` Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway on April 12, 2014 in Darlington, South Carolina. (Photo Credit: NASCAR Via Getty Images)
Chase Elliott, driver of the #9 NAPA Auto Parts Chevrolet, celebrates with a burnout after winning the NASCAR Nationwide Series VFW Sport Clips Help A Hero 200 at Darlington Raceway on April 11, 2014 in Darlington, South Carolina.  (Photo Credit: NASCAR Via Getty Images)
Chase Elliott, driver of the #9 NAPA Auto Parts Chevrolet, celebrates in Victory Lane after winning the NASCAR Nationwide Series VFW Sport Clips Help A Hero 200 at Darlington Raceway on April 11, 2014 in Darlington, South Carolina. (Photo Credit: NASCAR Via Getty Images)
Chase Elliott, driver of the #9 NAPA Auto Parts Chevrolet, celebrates in Victory Lane after winning the NASCAR Nationwide Series VFW Sport Clips Help A Hero 200 at Darlington Raceway on April 11, 2014 in Darlington, South Carolina. (Photo Credit: NASCAR Via Getty Images)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser Chevrolet SS won the Pole position Friday, April 11, 2014 for Saturday`s NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Darlington Raceway in Darlington South Carolina. Harvick is 26th in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) standings. (Photo Credit: HHP/Tami Kelly-Pope for Chevrolet)

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scott - Unregistered

October 13, 2009 3:10 PM

When are the suits at crash.net going to run some stories on JPM???????????? He said F1 sucked in interviews, not crash.net The guy can be champion this year and you might miss the cool thang going on in the usa



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