Johnson in uncharted waters

Yahoo! Sports

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If you know anything about golf, then you know Tiger Woods has never won a major having to come from behind in the final round. Well, Jimmie Johnson also has never won a title having to come from behind with two races to go. We're about to find out if he can.

Each Thursday during the Chase, Yahoo! Sports breaks down the 12-driver field. Here's a look at how the field stacks up heading into race No. 9 of the Chase, Sunday's Kobalt Tools 500:

1. Denny Hamlin

6325 pts.

Hamlin
Hamlin

It could be argued that Hamlin began his title run in April at Phoenix. Yes, he finished 30th that day, but he finished the race, just 10 days after knee surgery. That showed his team he was in it to win it.
Last week's result: 1st

2010 STATS

Wins

Top 5s

Poles

8

14

2

CAREER
AT PHOENIX

Avg. finish:

11.6

Last time:

30th

REMAINING TRACKS

Best: Homestead-Miami (10.6)
Worst: Phoenix (11.6)

Total avg.: 11.1

2. Jimmie Johnson

6292 pts. (-33 points)

Johnson
Johnson

This is a must-win race for Johnson. Yes, a must-win. Thirty-three points is a lot to overcome against a guy who is finishing in the top five every week, and really the only way to make up ground is to win.
Last week's result: 9th

2010 STATS

Wins

Top 5s

Poles

6

15

3

CAREER
AT PHOENIX

Avg. finish:

4.9

Last time:

3rd

REMAINING TRACKS

Best: Phoenix (4.9)
Worst: Homestead-Miami (12.7)

Total avg.: 8.8

3. Kevin Harvick

6266 pts. (-59)

Harvick
Harvick

How tough is this Chase? In the eight races, Harvick's average finish is 6.1 and still he trails by 59 points. A 6.1 average would have been good enough to win the Chase in 2004, '05, '06 and '09.
Last week's result: 6th

2010 STATS

Wins

Top 5s

Poles

3

15

2

CAREER
AT PHOENIX

Avg. finish:

15.0

Last time:

13th

REMAINING TRACKS

Best: Homestead-Miami (8.4)
Worst: Phoenix (15.0)

Total avg.: 11.7

4. Carl Edwards

6008 pts. (-317)

Edwards
Edwards

Want to know how weak the Chase is after the top three drivers? Edwards picked up two spots in the standings with a 19th-place finish. In fact, he has only three top 10s in the Chase and still he's fourth.
Last week's result: 19th

2010 STATS

Wins

Top 5s

Poles

0

7

2

CAREER
AT PHOENIX

Avg. finish:

12.8

Last time:

7th

REMAINING TRACKS

Best: Homestead-Miami (6.5)
Worst: Phoenix (12.8)

Total avg.: 9.7

5. Matt Kenseth

6000 pts. (-325)

Kenseth
Kenseth

Further evidence of how the bottom nine have failed to perform. Kenseth's average Chase finish is 14.6 – 3.6 spots worse than Joey Logano has been over the same stretch.
Last week's result: 2nd

2010 STATS

Wins

Top 5s

Poles

0

6

0

CAREER
AT PHOENIX

Avg. finish:

18.2

Last time:

6th

REMAINING TRACKS

Best: Phoenix (18.2)
Worst: Homestead-Miami (19.8)

Total avg.: 19.0

6. Jeff Gordon

5994 pts. (-331)

Gordon
Gordon

Says he has some unfinished business to take care of at Phoenix, and no, he's not talking about dealing with Jeff Burton. Is a win finally in the cards for Gordon? Unlikely.
Last week's result: 37th

2010 STATS

Wins

Top 5s

Poles

1

11

0

CAREER
AT PHOENIX

Avg. finish:

10.4

Last time:

2nd

REMAINING TRACKS

Best: Homestead-Miami (9.5)
Worst: Phoenix (10.4)

Total avg.: 10.0

7. Kyle Busch

5986 pts. (-339)

Kyle Busch
Kyle Busch

Would it be any consolation for Busch to somehow help his teammate Denny Hamlin win his first championship? Probably not.
Last week's result: 32nd

2010 STATS

Wins

Top 5s

Poles

3

10

2

CAREER
AT PHOENIX

Avg. finish:

13.9

Last time:

8th

REMAINING TRACKS

Best: Phoenix (13.9)
Worst: Homestead-Miami (25.2)

Total avg.: 19.6

8. Tony Stewart

5962 pts. (-323)

Stewart
Stewart

For what it's worth, the old driver of the No. 20's average over the last eight races is six spots worse than the new driver of the No. 20 (Logano).
Last week's result: 11th

2010 STATS

Wins

Top 5s

Poles

2

9

2

CAREER
AT PHOENIX

Avg. finish:

11.7

Last time:

23rd

REMAINING TRACKS

Best: Phoenix (11.7)
Worst: Homestead-Miami (12.8)

Total avg.: 12.3

9. Greg Biffle

5953 pts. (-372)

Biffle
Biffle

Forget Phoenix. Biffle is just looking forward to getting down to Homestead-Miami Speedway, a track where he's won three times.
Last week's result: 5th

2010 STATS

Wins

Top 5s

Poles

2

8

0

CAREER
AT PHOENIX

Avg. finish:

15.4

Last time:

22nd

REMAINING TRACKS

Best: Homestead-Miami (13.5)
Worst: Phoenix (15.4)

Total avg.: 14.5

10. Clint Bowyer

5928 pts. (-397)

Bowyer
Bowyer

Aside from the battle for first, there is still an interesting battle for fourth, which, believe it or not, Bowyer is still in contention for.
Last week's result: 7th

2010 STATS

Wins

Top 5s

Poles

2

7

0

CAREER
AT PHOENIX

Avg. finish:

14.9

Last time:

9th

REMAINING TRACKS

Best: Phoenix (14.9)
Worst: Homestead-Miami (16.2)

Total avg.: 15.6

11. Kurt Busch

5890 pts. (-435)

Kurt Busch
Kurt Busch

If Roger Penske won't give Busch permission to park it, we will. Probably best if he does, that way he can't say anything more that he'll regret in 2011.
Last week's result: 24th

2010 STATS

Wins

Top 5s

Poles

2

9

2

CAREER
AT PHOENIX

Avg. finish:

13.5

Last time:

35th

REMAINING TRACKS

Best: Phoenix (13.5)
Worst: Homestead-Miami (19.6)

Total avg.: 16.6

12. Jeff Burton

5852 pts. (-473)

Burton
Burton

This was supposed to be the year Burton challenged for the championship. As the Chase turned out, it's been the exact opposite.
Last week's result: 36th

2010 STATS

Wins

Top 5s

Poles

0

6

0

CAREER
AT PHOENIX

Avg. finish:

11.4

Last time:

25th

REMAINING TRACKS

Best: Phoenix (11.4)
Worst: Homestead-Miami (14.5)

Total avg.: 13.0

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