Just Past Halfway Review Part 1 | June 14, 2012
NASCAR has just gone past the halfway mark and it seems like an appropriate time to revisit my early season review and see how everyone is doing in the Race for the Chase which starts in 12 races time. As with my previous review I wont be talking about the teams that run part time, so no mention of Trevor Bayne I’m afraid, other then to say when he does get a start he is doing very well. I am also going to trim down the teams by excluding the ‘start and parks’ as there is not really a huge amount that can be said about teams and drivers that run a few laps and then ‘develop engine problems’.
Probably the team that is most on form. After having to wait until race 11 at Darlington for their 200th (and first of the season) win they have gone to victory lane in 2 out of the last 4 races, and will certainly have earmarked a few more races for victory. But with only 2 drivers currently in ‘the Chase’ it hasn’t all gone their own way.
Dale Earnhardt Jr
It’s no surprise that he still hasn’t been able to win a race, although he did cross the line first in the Sprint, but in my eyes that doesn’t count! Nonetheless he has been up to second in the standings, his highest ever position and has currently his best ever average finish position of 8.4. He is also the only driver who has completed every lap of ever race so far this season. After last weeks race he has moved back up to 2nd in the standings and he is certainly showing himself as a genuine contender for the Championship.
5 time has shown that he must certainly be one of the favourites for the Championship after a great run of form. He finally got HM 200th win and as well as 2 dominant Sprint Cup wins also took the win at the All Star race. He is currently in 5th in the standings and 30 points off the top spot and an absolute lock for the Chase.
I said in my last review that the season had been a disaster for Gordon so far, well think of a word worse then ‘disaster’ and that is Jeff Gordon’s season so far! If you can think of a way to end a race without winning then it has probably happened to Gordon this year. With only 3 top 10 finishes so far he currently sits in 22nd place. It is virtually impossible for him to gain an automatic Chase spot by finishing in the top 10. His only chance now is to win a few races and qualify as a wildcard with the most wins. But given his current luck I don’t see that happening.
Has been able to shrug off his poor early season form and pick up a much needed win in Charlotte. In the 6 of the last 7 races he has finished in the top 10 and has moved up to 16th in the standings. He is still 40 points off 10th place but given the strength of the HM cars I am sure that he will be confident of finishing in the top 10 or taking a wildcard if he can’t get into the top 10.
Roush Fenway Racing
A satisfying season so far for Jack Roush with one driver leading the championship, another easily in the top 10 and one on the cusp of a Chase position. The only area for concern would be that they only have 2 race wins so far. But if all 3 drivers make the Chase then I’m sure that would be overlooked,
Finally relinquished the top spot in the standings last weekend, after his first finish outside the top 20 (due to an engine issue) and has slipped down to 3rd. A win at Texas gave him much needed validation as the points leader but he still appears to struggle to get the recognition he deserves for a great season so far. Barring a disaster he will be in the Chase and if he can maintain his early season consistency then he will be in with a real shot of winning the Championship.
After weeks of closing down the gap in points to his team mate he finally took top spot in the standings after another top 10 finish at Pocono. He may not have picked up any more wins, but a top 10 finish in the last 6 races will be exactly the type of consistency that the team will be looking for. Another shoe in for the Chase and like his team mate Biffle will be confident of taking the title.
I could almost re-use my opening sentence from my last review “A so so start for last years Sprint Cup runner up who currently sits in 11th place overall.” While he hasn’t had the best luck, its certainly not in the Gordon realm, he has been able to maintain top 10 finishes in most races. He is only 3 points off 10th place but to be a contender he needs to be more consistent in his finishes. If he can find that then he should be able to lock himself into a Chase position.
A season that so far is getting worse and worse. After a very promising start both drivers have now started to really struggle and while one remains in the the top 10 and the other with a chance at a wildcard they will be very disappointed with how the season has gone so far.
The inconsistencies that I mentioned in my earlier review have continued. While he has been able to pick up three 3rd places in the last 6 races the other 3 results have been two 25ths and a 24th and it sees him sitting in only 8th place. Given that he has two wins it would be extremely unlikely that he wont make the Chase, either as a top 10 finisher or as a wildcard but the latter will not please Stewart and they will be hoping for better results in the rest of the season.
Like his team mate, he has had an awful run of recent form. Since taking the win in Martinsville he has not had a top 10 finish, his highest being 12th last weekend. This has seen him slip out of the top 10 to 14th. If he doesn’t find some form in the next few races then it will be become difficult for him to make the Chase as there are so many other drivers around him in a similar position and that are more in form.