With the elimination playoff changes NASCAR Sprint Cup Series made to the 2014 Chase for the Sprint Cup, keeping track of points and position is a mathematical exercise.
Matt Kenseth and his winless team have had a good year with 10 finishes in the top-10 range, but they haven’t chased the skunk out of Victory Lane. He and the No. 20 team are second in traditional NSCS points, but in new Chase standings where wins count more now, they are in the No. 11 spot.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. is on top of the Chase standings with two wins and points, but he occupies the No. 3 spot in NSCS points.
Rookie Kyle Larson is on a fast learning curve in the No. 10 position in NSCS points, but he is just one spot behind Kenseth in the Chase standings.
Perhaps it is time for fans to refer to the Chase standings to determine how their favorite driver is doing. Wins mean more than points now.
One competitive element that hasn’t changed much is that every driver wants to win the next race. Certainly every fan wants to see their driver win the next race.
Six select drivers with top results in 2014 shared their thoughts before the green flag starts the Quicken Loans 400 at Michigan International Speedway this Sunday.
As the subject here has been primarily ranking and winning, it’s appropriate to have the most favorite driver among fans, Earnhardt, comment on wins. He comes off a big second win in Pocono.
“A win gives you a lot of confidence,” Earnhardt said. “But you know and realize how difficult those are to come by and how competitive this garage is. But man, when you win two in a row, that sets you apart from your competition. That would be great for us.”
Joey Logano and the No. 22 team are having a good season with two early wins and seem prepared to keep on rolling.
“Still a lot of the season to go,” Logano said. “We have a strong team, and we will only get better as the season goes on. This is about the time last year that we started getting strong and winning a bunch of races with all four of our drivers. We can do that again.”
Jimmie Johnson and the No. 48 team silenced doubters with back-to-back wins after struggling early in the season.
“It seems like we run well at Michigan, and then something usually happens to us, so we have been chasing a win for what seems like forever,” Johnson said. “Always a lot of Chevrolet guests at the track. Be nice to see a Chevy in the winner’s circle for them.”
Kyle Busch is always a threat to win at NASCAR’s many tracks, perhaps because he knows and understands NSCS tracks. He shared his take on Michigan.
“Regardless of new pavement, it’s wide-open racing,” Busch said. “You can run from top to bottom. With the new surface, there is a ton of grip. Before, you had grip for maybe five laps. Then you’d just be out to lunch. But now, the tire wear is out the window.”
Kenseth is another driver who has a solid understanding of NASCAR’s tracks. He added some thoughts about MIS.
“Track position is going to be really important this weekend,” Kenseth said. “I’m hoping we can get a good qualifying session in. Michigan has been a really fast track since the repave. It’s going to be even faster this weekend due to the new rules package.”
Larson seems content to learn as he excels.
“I’m looking forward to getting to Michigan this weekend and building off the momentum from the top-five finish at Pocono,” Larson said. “I had a good race at Michigan last year in the Nationwide car, so I’m excited to see what we can do in the Cup car.”
Drivers enjoy every win, but a win near the traditional automobile manufacturing city of Detroit gives their stock car a special glow. One of these six top drivers might well secure the checkered flag.
NASCAR fans without tickets can catch 200 laps of fast action June 15 on TNT at 1:00 p.m. ET.
FYI WIRZ is the select presentation of topics by Dwight Drum at Racetake.com. Unless otherwise noted, information and all quotes were obtained firsthand or from official release materials provided by sanction and team representatives.