Tony Stewart and Danica Patrick are just two notable NASCAR drivers who need a win in tomorrow’s NASCAR Oral-B USA 500 or next week’s Federated Auto Parts 400 if they’re going to have any chance of making the Chase for the Sprint Cup.
You can watch tomorrow’s NASCAR Oral-B USA 500 by following this link.
NASCAR changed the format for the Chase this year, in order to favor drivers with wins over drivers who consistently finish well but never take the checkered flag. Going into tomorrow’s NASCAR Oral-B USA 500 in Atlanta, there are 12 drivers with at least one victory. Each of those drivers has virtually secured a spot in the Chase for the Cup. All they need to do is qualify for the remaining two races. The full list of drivers with wins follows:
- Jeff Gordon
- Dale Earnhardt Jr.
- Brad Keselowski
- Joey Logano
- Jimmie Johnson
- Kevin Harvick
- Carl Edwards
- Kyle Busch
- Denny Hamlin
- AJ Allmendinger
- Kurt Busch
- Aric Almirola
If the remaining races are won by drivers who have prior wins, four non-winners would round out the Chase for the Cup’s 16-driver field. If the standings were to remain as they are going into today’s Oral-B USA 500, the non-winning drivers entered into the Chase would be:
- Matt Kenseth — 5th in points standings
- Ryan Newman — 9th in points standings
- Clint Bowyer — 10th in points standings
- Greg Biffle — 11th in points standings
Drivers just on the outside looking in include Kyle Larson and Kasey Kahne, but both of them are more than 20 points behind Biffle. Of course, the standings won’t remain exactly as they are. There is also no guarantee that four non-winning drivers will make it to the Chase. We can look for drivers without wins — especially those who are low in the points standings — to go all out to get that all-important checkered flag that will cement their spot in the Chase for the Cup. Should drivers who haven’t won yet make it to Victory Lane in the next two events, that would leave only two spots in the Chase for non-winners.
That leaves a whole host of notable drivers on the outside looking in. Tony Stewart, who sat out the last three races after the tragic accident in which he hit and killed 20-year old sprint car driver Kevin Ward Jr., is still looking for his first trip to victory Lane of the 2014 NASCAR Sprint Cup season. Going into tomorrow’s NASCAR Oral-B USA 500, Tony Stewart is 26th in the NASCAR Sprint Cup points standings and 14th among drivers without a win. This leaves him only one road to the Chase for the Cup, and that road drives straight through Victory Lane.
Stewart has to win tomorrow or next week to get in the Chase, but he isn’t the only one. Danica Patrick, who is still looking for her first win and who has developed a reputation for both crashing and driving too cautiously for fear of crashing, is sitting at 28th in the Sprint Cup points standings, with 15 no-win drivers ahead of her for the 2 to 4 spots available to non-winners. Like Stewart, it’s unthinkable that Danica Patrick will gain that much ground with two races left. To make it into the Chase, she’s going to have to get her first NASCAR Sprint Cup win. It’s as simple as that.
you can view the complete NASCAR points standings here. Which four drivers would you like to see round out the NASCAR Chase for the Sprint Cup? Tell us in the comments section. Are you pulling for Tony Stewart or Danica Patrick, or would you rather they didn’t make it to the NASCAR Chase for the Cup?