The 2014 Sprint Cup season is halfway to the Chase.
After Sunday’s win, Jimmie Johnson is the obvious winner; Kyle Busch (going for another three-peat and finishing 42nd) is a disappointed obvious loser. The rest is a bit murky. Using Nascar’s points system, here’s a Bert Convy inspired breakdown.
Win: Kurt Busch
Points aren’t supposed to matter as much, but if you look at points alone, did you realize Kurt Busch is 27th in the standings? Of all the Stewart Haas drivers, only Kevin Harvick is better than 20th. In fact, Kurt Busch is only two points better than Danica Patrick.
Under the new points system, this reality is virtually irrelevant. Busch has a secure Chase spot, respect from the drivers and a Hendrick engine for the playoffs. For things having not gone very well in 2014, things are going very well in 2014 for Kurt Busch.
Lose: Nascar’s Old Guard:
Thirteen races into the 2014 Sprint Cup season, it’s fair to start saying, “If the season ended today…” and have it mean something. So if the season ended today, these drivers would be on the outside of the Chase:
- Greg Biffle is out by one point.
- Clint Bowyer is out by eight points.
- Kasey Kahne is out by nine points
- Tony Stewart is out by 22 points.
These drivers are safe by the following points:
- Kyle Larson is in by 19 points.
- Ryan Newman is in by 16 points.
- Paul Menard is in by four points.
- Austin Dillon is the bubble boy.
This doesn’t account for drivers winning their first race of the 2014 Sprint Cup season. It may account for some extra pressure for Nascar’s old guard to be one of those drivers winning their first race of the 2014 Sprint Cup Season.
Draw: Matt Kenseth
In the traditional system where only points would matter, Matt Kenseth would lead the points race with 463, two better than Jeff Gordon and nearly double Kurt Busch. Instead, Kenseth trails Busch in the new Chase standings and 11th overall.
The good News is racing for points matters in the Chase, and Kenseth’s consistency (nobody has more top 10’s this year) should help him get to Homestead. The bad news is ten drivers have won in the first 13 Sprint cup races. Is six different drivers win the next 13 races and one of them isn’t Matt Kenseth, he would be out of the Chase.
We’re halfway to the playoffs to the Chase. Let’s see how teams chase a win and points at Pocono Sunday.