The madness wasn’t only on a basketball floor this past weekend.
The normally reserved Auto Club Speedway was chaotic, with late cautions, bold passes and tough strategy playing its way to an exciting Auto Club 400. Here’s a breakdown of winners and losers in this NASCAR recap.
Win: Stewart Haas Racing
Kevin Harvick’s streak of finishing first or second now stands at eight races; that’s nearly 1/4 of an entire Sprint Cup season. This should make for some great conversations during Harvick’s Hall of Fame Induction week 15 years from now.
Kurt Busch also had his second top-5 in as many races. Busch is only 40 points out of the Chase, even though he didn’t run the first three weeks of the 2015 Sprint Cup season. The idea of Busch winning a race seems logical, and he might be able to catch up on points alone if he keeps this pace moving.
Lose: Michael Waltrip Racing
Brian Vickers being out for three months feels like a punch in the stomach to this team, one that feels like it may never recover from the Richmond debacle of 2013. Consider the following:
- Clint Bowyer is 20th on the points right now.
- It will be next to impossible for the second MWR team to qualify for the Chase.
- Martin Truex Jr. is fifth in points and shows no sign of slowing down anytime soon.
Bowyer could easily make the Chase, but the loss of a third team and instability of a second team has to be tough for Waltrip to swallow. Let’s hope Vickers gets healthy sooner rather than later.
Draw: Team Penske
On one hand, Joey Logano has 197 points through five races, and Brad Keselowski has his Chase win and the fifth most points of any active driver. Life is good for these teams.
On the other hand, it feels like everyone is flying under the radar of the Kevin Harvick Express. Don’t get me wrong, Harvick deserves the spotlight for this historic run. But if Harvick wasn’t in this zone, Team Penske would be the story of the Sprint Cup season right now. Instead, they feel like a little outside the grid.
It seems like madness to say two of the top five drivers are off the grid, but it’s been that kind of start to the 2015 Sprint Cup season. Let’s see what happens when teams reach Martinsville’s famed paper clip. Enjoy the week, and insert a random catchphrase here.