Chase Within the Chase
There’s THE Chase, the top 12 racing for a championship. And then there’s OUR Chase, the final 12 racing for their 2008 lives. NASCAR rules say any car in the top 35 in owner standings is guaranteed a spot in the upcoming race, regardless of qualifying effort. For 2008, the top 35 after this season’s 36 races — slow as they might be come Daytona in February — are automatically handed a grid position for the first five events. That gives Red Bull Racing 10 tries to get there. Brian Vickers’ No. 83 sits 38th in the owner standings — 233 points behind the No. 21 in 35th. Red Bull Racing is a mere 32 points from 37th but 214 from 36th. No one has any room for error, as only 549 points separate positions 32 through 40. A good place for Vickers to start is in Friday’s qualifying at New Hampshire, where he owns two top-three starts including a pole in July 2005. Rookie AJ Allmendinger moved from 47th to 45th in driver points when he finished 23rd at Richmond, six days after a career-best effort of 18th at California. The quest for more seat time takes Allmendinger back to the Craftsman Truck Series, where he’ll drive the Darrell Waltrip-owned and Red Bull-sponsored No. 00 Toyota at New Hampshire.