The first off week of the 2014 Sprint Cup Season is in the books. On the track, nobody won, nobody lost and nobody qualified for the Chase. But as we get back into the grind of the season, there are some people who who feel better and worse about the next stretch of the season.
Win: Hendrick Motorsports
Dale Earnhardt Jr. won the Dayton 500 and had two wins on the doorstep. Jimmie Johnson is still rounding into form and hasn’t had one of his classic dominate the whole race kind of victories. Jeff Gordon has been near or at the top of the points in a points system that doesn’t reward points during the regular season. Kasey Kahne is behind Casey Mears in the standings.
This isn’t reason for panic, but I suspect the entire team was more than willing to take a few days to relax and recalibrate.
Lose: Stewart Haas Racing
Closers love momentum. Kevin Harvick had momentum after the Martinsville win. Kurt Busch is getting ready for the biggest month of his life and has his Chase spot secured. Tony Stewart is rounding into form. Danica Patrick has sponsors for life. Everyone wins as long as there’s a race. There wasn’t on Sunday, and while the easter eggs were nice, there weren’t any in Victory Lane.
Draw: The Little Guys
Kyle Larson, Austin Dillon and Brian Vickers would all make the Chase is the season ended. Every year, there are several drivers who are this year’s Larson, Dillon and Vickers. More often than not, those drivers end up like Menard, Mears or Montoya on the outside of the Chase after 26 races.
This isn’t like last year or other years. There’s a new points system. There’s a new way of racing. There are new approaches to racing, and we haven’t gotten to the end of the end the 2014 Sprint Cup regular season when drivers like Kahne have to win or else.
Is this the year a Larson, Dillon or Vickers buck the trend and take the Chase plunge? Sprint Cup fans will be a step closer Saturday night at Richmond. I hoped you enjoyed the off week and getting ready for more Saturday night racing.