Nextel Cup champ likely Gordon, Johnson, Bowyer or Stewart

During the month of March, the NCAA basketball tournament has their “Final Four.” During the months of October and November, NASCAR may have what could eventually become known as the “Final Five.”

The NASCAR Nextel Cup Series is halfway through their final 10 races of the season. These all-important final 10 races are simply called “The Chase.” They determine the winner of the coveted Nextel Cup—the series championship.

With these “Final Five” races remaining, veteran driver and four-time series champion Jeff Gordon has a 68-point lead over last year’s champion, Jimmie Johnson.

Gordon is trying to capture his fifth series title. Johnson is trying to make it his second in a row. Ironically, he would be the only driver to capture back-to-back titles since Gordon accomplished that feat nine years ago (1997-1998). Gordon’s last title came in 2001.

Neither of these two former champions has anything locked up just yet. Breathing right down their necks is Clint Bowyer. The sophomore driver is third in the points standings and hungry for his first-ever series title. He is only 10 points behind Johnson and 78 points back of Gordon.

Tony Stewart, another former champion (2002 and 2005), is chasing his third title. He is in fourth place, 198 points behind Gordon.

In a season that began way back in February, it all comes down to these remaining five races. Which one of these four guys will win this year’s championship? Bowyer is the only one of the four who has never won the title. Will he be able to overcome the 78-point deficit and steal the title from one of the veterans, or will one of them be able to add another championship trophy to their collection?

The answers to those questions—and a whole lot more—will be revealed to NASCAR fans everywhere as the series moves to Martinsville, Va., this Sunday (Oct. 21) to begin the first race of the “Final Five.” The race will be broadcast on ABC television with coverage beginning at noon. With so much at stake and so much still to be decided, it should be an exciting “Final Five.”

Doug Halberstadt can be reached via e-mail at

from the Oct. 17-23, 2007, issue

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