While the drivers and teams may have been relaxing on the beach all week, the race to the Chase did not change nor take a break. Once the teams hit the track in Indianapolis this weekend, they will need to go after a Chase birth like there was only one lap remaining in the race. It is go time for some teams.
With there only being 7 races until the Chase, a win is key for any of the teams currently sitting between eleventh and twentieth in the standings. A win would put them into a Wild Card position and then it wouldn’t matter what their position is inside the top twenty. There are some drivers who could easily get that win, but then there are some that it’ll require a bit of luck and effort. I give you a report of the contenders’ Chase chances below.
Martin Truex Jr.
He scored his first victory in years at Sonoma and that has locked him with a Wild Card position currently. One win and staying where he is now in the standings (eleventh) should be enough to boost his team into the Chase. They do not need to be in an all-out win mode, however another win wouldn’t hurt.
Once again this season, his Chase projections are unclear. If it wasn’t for rain, he wouldn’t have made the Chase last year with one win so it doesn’t really say much on what to expect from the four-time champ. Obviously he needs a win and he has some good tracks coming up, so all he really should do over the next seven races is go for the win and stay consistent.
In my eyes, he’s a lock for the Chase. One win so far has him in the second Wild Card position and with the summer time being his best time of the year; another win shouldn’t be too far away. Two wins would put him as a lock for the Chase, and I wouldn’t be surprised if he races his way into the top ten before Richmond comes.
This guy is interesting. Every race weekend before the actual race, he looks like a prime contender for the victory. When the race actually starts, he is either involved in a wreck or falls back in the pack. He’s been known to fade towards the finish so he needs to break that streak to be Chase eligible. He has to get wins and one guy who could go all out for victories is Kurt Busch, but I am not convinced he has the ability to do that this season.
Wins. They are all he needs and getting two would put him in a Chase spot. He has good tracks coming up, but he needs to have a great day to end up in victory lane.
He’s in the same boat as McMurray, all he needs to do is win two races and he’s set. Since Almirola doesn’t know what it’s like to win in the Cup Series yet, it’ll be tough to get two before the Chase.
The theme continues with guys fifteenth or lower in the standings. Burton also needs to get to victory lane to break his streak and that may put him in the Chase. His strong run at New Hampshire has given his team hope and if they keep it up, he’ll be contending for wins and maybe even a Wild Card spot.
As much as you want to think he has a great shot at the Chase, he really doesn’t. He hasn’t shown consistency whatsoever and to put everything together now would require a miracle. After the last two weeks, his chances are basically shot so going all-out should be his strategy at this point.
Wins aren’t his thing, especially at most of the upcoming tracks. He’ll be carrying too much on his shoulders for the rest of the season and that will likely shut him out of the Chase and maybe even victory lane.
More than doubling his career wins total at this point in the season with seven races until the Chase is nearly impossible. Don’t expect a miraculous run for the Chase from this team.
The race to the Chase can be a complicated game and with ten drivers going after two positions, it gets wild. Wins are most important and for guys who haven’t been competing as frequently at the front all season to get there now is just hard to see happening. Anything could occur though, so keep your eyes glued to the TV for the next seven races, because in the race to the Chase, miracles are possible.
By Jason Schultz