Thursday, July 19, 2012

Race to the Chase: Wildcard Hopefuls

Gordon will have to have better luck than this to make the Chase
With NASCAR taking this week off from racing, I thought it would be a good time to take a look at the drivers fighting for a wildcard spot in this seasons Chase. With only 7 races left in the regular season its do or die time for some drivers to secure their spot in the Chase. As of today, there are 7 drivers I believe have some shot at a wildcard. So let's start with the driver in the best position to make the chase and work our way down the list.

After a win last weekend at New Hampshire Kasey Kahne became the leader of the wildcard hopefuls. As the only driver in wildcard position to have 2 wins, it would take an unlikely situation to drop Kahne out of the Chase. Having two wins means 2 drivers would have to hit the two win mark and pass Kahne in the standings to drop him for his wildcard spot. The three drivers with the best ability to do that would be Kyle Busch, Ryan Newman, and Joey Logano who each own a win a piece. With only 7 races left the probability of this happening is diminishing, although through these next 7 races you best believe Kahne will be keeping a close eye on these two. Another win would surely solidify Kahnes chances, but at this point he's looking more like a lock for the Chase.

Our next driver in the wildcard standings is Kyle Busch. After winning the pole at New Hampshire with a strong car many thought Busch would be sitting here with 2 wins instead of Kahne. Two problems in the pit, however, took away his chances at making that second win happen. Busch has had a strong car the past few races, and I believe if he can control his temper and race as matured as he did at New Hampshire he will see that second win happen. The three drivers with the best chance to ruin Kyle's hopes at the Chase are Ryan Newman, Joey Logano, and Carl Edwards. If Newman can win another race Busch would have to win that second race or be eliminated from the wild card. Edwards who actually owns 11th in the standings merely needs to win his first race of the season to pass Busch in the standings. However, with a crew chief change many are starting to doubt that as a possibility.

The third driver in wildcard contention is Ryan Newman. Newman owns a win just like Busch, however he hasnt had as many quality finishes as Busch which puts him behind Busch in the points standings. Newman can help his chances if he can earn his second win of the season, but with 7 races to go and less quality finishes he seems like a less likely shot than Busch to earn that second win. The three drivers that could ruin Newman's would be Busch, Logano, and Edwards. Just like the situation for Busch it would take another win from Logano or Busch and a pass in the standings to knock Newman out. If Edwards were to win a race and the other drivers with a sole win did not win again Edwards could sneak in and knock Newman out.

Our last driver with one win looking for a wildcard spot is Joey Logano. Sitting back at 16th in points Logano would have to win his second race and have to hope the other 2 drivers owning a win don't win another race. Just like Busch and Newman, Logano also has to worry about Edwards if he can't pull off that second win. As a driver already owning a win, Logano still has a better chance than Edwards, but he has to win that second race or pass both Busch and Newman in points to get that wildcard spot.

Now we enter the drivers without a win in 2012. Carl Edwards is first on that list. Coming off a runner up finish in the Chase last season off a tiebreaker many had high hopes for Carl this season. However, something just hasn't been right about his car this season. Edwards still sits at 11th in the points standings, however, he is 46 points behind 10th in the standings. This puts him in wildcard competition and with 0 wins this season he is behind Kahne, Busch, Newman, and Logano in the wildcard standings. If he can win a race or two he would be very much in contention for a wildcard birth, but with 7 races left that chance is dwindling. Add on the fact that he just changed crew chiefs, and  Edwards is viewed by many as a long shot. The change may be for the good, but we won't know until the next race.

Our second driver with a shot who has yet to win a race is Paul Menard. Unlike Edwards Menard is behind Kahne, Busch, and Newman in the standings. That doesn't mean he cant make the Chase, however, he would have to win at least one race and pass Busch and Newman in the standings. With 7 races to go he can make up a lot of ground, but he will have to consistently finish well and get at least a win if not two.

Our final driver looking to land a wild card spot is veteran Jeff Gordon. A streak of bad luck this season has left Gordon in 17th in the points without a win. This does not mean, however, that Gordon could not make the Chase. It will take a change of luck for him to pass the other drivers, but the last few races Gordon has finished consistently in the top ten to get himself back into contention. Gordon must win at least one race and hope Busch, Newman, or Logano don't pick up another win. Two wins of course would help Gordons chances but as of right now he needs to focus on climbing up the standings and getting that first win.

The race for the Chase is still a battle and any one of these drivers could find themselves in the Chase. I personally can't wait to see this fold out, and if I were to guess right now I would say we don't see one of the drivers with a win making it into the Chase. Stay tuned to MKY Sports as we follow these drivers fights to make it to the Chase.

1 comment:

  1. touche sir. I'll have a gem for you on my upcoming soapbox.