For the first time since the Chase for the Sprint Cup format was introduced in 2004, there's a distinct possibility that there might be different players in the drivers' and owners' championships.
With Brian Vickers' win at Loudon, the No. 55 Michael Waltrip Racing Toyota -- driven by Mark Martin, team owner Michael Waltrip and Vickers this year -- moved into the second provisional wild card spot for the owners' Chase, two points ahead of Tony Stewart's No. 14 car (owned by Margaret Haas).
Since the three drivers all run part-time schedules, they're not a factor in the drivers' championship, but the car could win the owners' title since it's active in every race.
MWR executive vice president Ty Norris said MWR and No. 55 crew chief Rodney Childers have had their eyes on the owners' prize for a long time.
"Rodney Childers deserves to run for a championship as a crew chief," Norris said. "About a year and a half ago, we told him that we were going to run Mark Martin in 24 races and Michael in the speedway races, and we were not even sure who was going to drive the other races at that point. And Rodney has everybody knocking on his door, always, and we respect that. But he made the choice to stay, and that was a big choice for our organization.
"One of the very first things we talked about was racing for an owner's championship; let's shake up the system. We'll have multiple drivers but if we can win some races and be in a situation where we can run for an owner's championship, that can be just as remarkable as running for a driver's championship."
During the first nine years of the Chase, no car has been eligible for the owners' title without a full-time Chase driver behind the wheel. That could change this year.
FULL SERIES COVERAGE
- Motor Racing
- Sports & Recreation
- Rodney Childers