The Bucket Report: Midseason Update

Use your ← → (arrow) keys to browse more stories
The Bucket Report: Midseason Update

 

            The front runners in the Chase get a lot of sound bites and headlines, but what about those drivers at the bottom of the bucket, just making the Chase? 

 

    With the exception of those devoted fans with TrackPass, the spotlight just doesn’t make it to the bottom of the bucket often. Well ESPN can have Kyle and JR, the Bucket Report is about those teams fighting at every race to stay in it.

 

Ranked 12th, Denny Hamlin (#11)

 

Points

Behind

Wins

Poles

Laps Led

2283

-598

1

1

679

 

            Hamlin had an adequate start but things seem to have gone downhill for him following Talladega. He had some rather public off-track problems with his team early on. Many point to the downward trends in his stats as being a sign of a lack of confidence, originating from these earlier issues. However, Hamlin is doing well in the Nationwide Series, which Joe Gibbs Racing is dominating. Teammate Kyle Busch, understanding he maybe spreading himself too thin, has switched his focus to the Sprint Cup Series. Is Hamlin focusing somewhere else as well?

 

    Looking at Hamlin’s Laps Led from the Budweiser Shootout to Talladega, his average was 23. Richmond was a high note as he led 381 laps, but from Darlington to Chicago, Hamlin’s average dropped to five laps. Is the radical reduction in LL from Talladega (excluding Richmond) showing a lack of focus? Hamlin needs to get his head back in the Chase or he will be out of it.

 

 

Ranked 11th, Kasey Kahne (#9)

 

Points

Behind

Wins

Poles

Laps Lead

2295

-586

2

2

163

 

            The critics of the #9 team won’t let last year die. Yes, there is no way to sugarcoat it: Kasey Kahne was appalling last year. It seems his punishment for last year is to be thought of as nothing more then the pretty boy of NASCAR. Hello, have we all forgotten 2006? That pretty boy can drive! Don’t count him out just yet; his trends are going in the right direction. He doesn’t seem to be burning out rather finding his groove.

 

    He has two cup wins in the last eight races. However, getting caught up in traffic and not holding his position has plagued him this season. The Dodge has the horsepower to answer Busch’s Toyota but does Kahne have the swagger to pull if off? 

 

Side note: Toby Christie had an article posted July 13thaddressing horsepower testing in the NASCAR Nationwide Series; interesting read, check it out.

 

Ranked 10th, Tony Stewart (#20)

 

Points

Behind

Wins

Poles

Laps Lead

2305

-576

0

0

549

 

            We all know Stewart can pull off a Cup win. After all, he has done it twice. Judging by his illness at Dayton, as stress wreaks havoc on the body, the decision to depart Gibbs Racing clearly has had an impact on Stewart. The #20 car was running well in Chicago, needing only a track-bar adjustment. Stewart seems to be feeling the car well and communicating what he needs to the crew. Maybe his problems with the CoT are in the past. It seems like the Brickyard just may give Stewart the opportunity he needs to remove himself from the Bucket Report.  

 

 

Ranked 9th, Kevin Harvick (#29)

 

Points

Behind

Wins

Poles

Laps Lead

2308

-573

0

0

95

 

            Can Harvick keep his early season momentum up? Last year staying power was an issue for him and caused Harvick to finish 10th in the Chase.  The fist half of this season (up to Talladega) he had an average finish of 10.8. From Talladega on, he has dropped to an average finish of 17.6. These numbers look like the beginning of burnout. With that said, he did have a notable finish (third) in Chicago.  Nevertheless, he seems to be making more headlines for the crashes he causes. He has the time to make a turn around, but the field above him is going to be tough competition.

 

 

            What will the Brickyard have in store for those drivers down at the bottom of the bucket? I believe we maybe losing some to higher and higher spots. There also maybe newcomers to the bucket dropping down from above or coming up from below.  Clint Bowyer (#07) has done well at Indianapolis in the past, so he is definitely on the radar for working his way up.

 

             Well until next time, happy cheering for the bottom of the bucket!

 

All numbers are based on stats reported on NASCAR.com and ESPN.com

 

Load More Stories
NASCAR

Subscribe Now

We will never share your email address

Thanks for signing up.