As we draw within sight of the Chase, let's take a look back at how the season has gone so far for NASCAR's top teams. We continue with Richard Petty Motorsports, which always seems right on the verge of breaking through ... but not quite.
Drivers: AJ Allmendinger (currently 17th in the standings), Marcos Ambrose (currently 22nd)
Overall accolades: Zero poles, four top-5s, 10 top-10s, one DNF.
High point: The Coca-Cola 600, where Allmendinger finished fifth and Ambrose finished right behind him in sixth. It was a solid performance and appeared to suggest that better times were ahead for the RPM crew, but neither driver could follow up on that strong performance in NASCAR's marquee race.
Low point: Well, the good news is, there haven't been many low points for RPM this season. The bad news is, it's been all fair-to-middling points. Nobody's done anything too exciting or too stupid. Ambrose still has a chance to take a road course win, and as this year's shown, anybody can get a victory at any time, but so far, it's been the very definition of a "meh" year for RPM.
Outlook for the Chase and beyond: Not much of a chance for either driver to make the Chase this year. Consistency is the key; while both Petty drivers usually manage to keep their cars on the track (witness the fact that they have just one DNF between them all year), they can't seem to keep them consistently up front. Equipment weakness, or driver error? Either way, RPM is running to catch up in a race that's already started.