Throughout the summer we're running our second NASCAR World Cup. Will Carl Edwards repeat? Or will someone else take the title? Click here for a NASCAR World Cup explanation and a list of all the groups.
Michigan Matchups: Johnson vs. Vickers, Almirola vs. Patrick
Sonoma Matchups: Johnson vs. Patrick, Vickers vs. Almirola
Kentucky Matchups: Johnson vs. Almirola, Vickers vs. Patrick
While Johnson is the clear favorite in the group, two of the three group stage tracks are of the four current Sprint Cup tracks he's never won at. Does that mean he's in danger? Probably not. Johnson is winless at Michigan and Kentucky, but sample size delegitimizes the track in the Bluegrass State. There have only been three Cup races there and he's finished in the top 10 all three times. Michigan is one of Johnson's worst tracks in terms of average finish, but he was in the running in the August 2012 race until a blown engine on lap 195 secured the win for Greg Biffle.
Outside of Johnson, the winner of the Vickers and Almirola matchup at Sonoma could decide who advances out of the group. And if that's the case, we give a slight edge to Vickers. He's got just one top 10 in eight Sonoma starts but has run in the top 20 four other times. Almirola has just three Sonoma starts but he's finished 28th, 28th and 20th. Don't discount Danica Patrick, either. She ran well at Michigan last year though any road course advantage she has is muted by facing Johnson at Sonoma. That matchup could be what prevents her from getting out of the group:
Projected standings: Johnson 2-1, Vickers 2-1, Almirola 1-2, Patrick 1-2
- - - - - - -
- Sports & Recreation
- Motor Racing
- Jimmie Johnson
- Brian Vickers
- Danica Patrick
- Aric Almirola