Victories put drivers not in the Chase in the headlines

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CONCORD, N.C. — Even if AJ Allmendinger and Greg Biffle spend most of tonight’s race at Charlotte Motor Speedway running up front, they know most of the attention will be focused a little deeper in the running order.

That’s their penitence for not making the field for the Chase for the Championship.

“There is one thing you can do when you don’t make the Chase and that is win races,” Biffle said. “They are not going to talk about you if you finish second, third, fourth or fifth. If you win, they are forced to talk about you when you aren’t in the Chase.”

Both have a good starting spot for the Bank of America 500 – Allmendinger is fourth on the grid; Biffle is fifth. Ahead of them, though, are three Chasers – Tony Stewart on the pole, followed by Matt Kenseth and Carl Edwards.

Not only will Allmen­dinger and Biffle have to fight for attention, they also have to fight tradition.

Since NASCAR started its playoff system for the 2004 season, non-Chase drivers have won just 12 of 74 playoff races.

And all four Chase races this year have been won by playoff drivers.

Charlotte’s been tough on non-Chase drivers, too.

Six of seven playoff races at the 1.5-mile quad-oval have been won by Chase drivers.

But that doesn’t stop the rest from trying to steal the headlines – even if it’s short-lived.

“It ultimately comes back to the fact that there are still goals,” Allmendinger said.

“It’s not so much that you have nothing to lose. I don’t want to take a chance and wreck and finish 40th and fall back to 18th in points or something like that.

“But if there’s a chance to be taken by not pitting or fuel or two tires – something like that – to go out there for a win, you’re more likely to take it.”

NATIONWIDE SERIES: In Charlotte, N.C., Sprint Cup points leader Carl Edwards moved in front on a late restart and held off Kyle Busch on the final lap to win his eighth Nationwide Series race of the season on Friday night.

Edwards’ right side was badly damaged after hitting the wall 32 laps into the race and he fell to 27th in the event at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

But he steadily moved up during the race and took the lead for the first time with five laps remaining.

It was Edwards’ sixth consecutive top-two finish in NASCAR’s second-tier series.


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