Chase breakdown: Phoenix

Jay Hart
Yahoo! SportsNovember 10, 2008

Race No. 9 of the Chase for the Sprint Cup is in the books. Here's how the 12 drivers stand after Jimmie Johnson's victory Sunday in the Checker O'Reilly Auto Parts 500 at Phoenix International Raceway:

1. Jimmie Johnson (finished first at Phoenix): There are no superlatives left for what Johnson has done. Just take a look at how many points back Tony Stewart is after just nine races. That says a lot.

2. Carl Edwards (finished fourth, -141 points): Give him credit. He had a rough day at Phoenix yet managed to rally to keep the Chase alive. He may have only a wing and a prayer, but that's better than nothing.

3. Greg Biffle (finished 11th, -203 points): It's officially over for everyone here on down. Biffle provided a great story by winning the first two races of this year's Chase. He'll be a popular pick to win it all next year.

4. Jeff Burton (finished ninth, -269 points): Solid. That's Burton in a nutshell. We've said it before and we'll say it again: He's the second coming of Mark Martin.

5. Kevin Harvick (finished seventh, -328 points): Another stout – just not stout enough – finish for Harvick, who continues to record top 10s but not so many top fives.

6. Clint Bowyer (finished 12th, -335 points): He's usually better on the flat tracks, so it was surprising not to see Bowyer in the top 10. Still, not a bad finish.

7. Jeff Gordon (finished 41st, -410 points): His last best chance at a victory in 2008 blew up when his engine dropped a cylinder. Gordon does have one last chance for a win, although it's at a track where he's never won.

8. Matt Kenseth (finished 15th, -470 points): If there's trouble, it will find Kenseth, which is exactly what happened again at Phoenix. If he can avoid the bad luck next season, he will be a challenger.

9. Denny Hamlin (finished fifth, -471 points): Despite all the ups and downs, Hamlin has not given up. Once he finds more consistency, he'll be a force just like his teammate, Kyle Busch.

10. Dale Earnhardt Jr. (finished sixth, -474 points): Finally found his way back into the top 10, which is something that's gotten away from the 88 team. They desperately need something to build on going into 2009.

11. Kyle Busch (finished eighth, -481 points): He may have mailed it in a few weeks ago, but he's shown some fight the last few weeks. Oh, and he got the loudest boo at Phoenix, which means he's done something right.

12. Tony Stewart (finished 22nd, -502 points): Don't feel bad for Smoke. He's more concerned with getting contracts signed for his team next year than he is with how he finishes races.