Certainly every event that is raced offers a multitude of drivers a chance of winning. But it amazes me as the Chase goes on how the cream always rises to the top. In 2011, Tony Stewart caught fire at the end of the season and never let up, winning the championship in a tie-breaker. But some of the cream heading into the NASCAR Sprint Cup 10-race playoffs has turned sour with five races to go. However, let's review some of the more top grade quality performers so far. Here are three.
3. Kasey Kahne
I'm not sure how surprising it is to be fifth and 35 points out of first with only five races remaining but Kahne didn't have the look of a champion. Yes, he was one of the better teams in the second half of the regular season. Still, this is a relatively new team who, quite honestly, probably came into the Chase as only the fourth best car from his own overall team at the Hendrick Motorsports stable of cars.
Kahne will need a couple wins and some top five finishes the remainder of the year to have any chance at a championship. However, being in the top 15 every Chase event so far has him solidly sitting fifth at the moment.
2. Clint Bowyer
For being with a brand new team this season, Bowyer has done about as much as could be expected. His win at Charlotte gave him three for the 2012 season and frankly, Bowyer is still in the running, sitting only 28 points back of the leader in fourth at this juncture.
The crash at Talladega hurt him more than any of the other contenders, setting him back in 23rd. But otherwise, he has four Top 10s in the Chase and if the three drivers ahead of him falter, Bowyer could still slip into the title hunt.
He had three wins during the regular season and nine Top 10s over the last 11 events, heading into the playoffs. So how could he be a surprise? Legitimately, can you think of very many people who had picked him as the champion? Yeah, not many … if any.
Yet, Keselowski continues to stay near or at the top of the ladder as we head down to the final stages of the season. He has two of the five victories in the Chase and his 11th last Saturday at Charlotte is his worse finish. And consider the fact Penske Racing, who he drives for, is winding down their Dodge operations. Impressive … and surprising, to say the least.
Sources - NASCAR, Racing Reference
Daryle has been involved in motorsports most of his life and has three decades of experience inside racemarketing, plus for several years has blogged about every type of racing.
- Motor Racing
- Sports & Recreation
- Kasey Kahne
- Clint Bowyer
- Hendrick Motorsports