Well, the regular season is over. The field for NASCAR’s Chase for the Sprint Cup has been set.
Among the 12 drivers, most expected Kyle Busch and Carl Edwards in the Chase over, say, the drivers of Michael Waltrip Racing: Martin Truex Jr. and Clint Bowyer.
Bowyer has made the Chase four times. His best year was his first Chase appearance in 2007, when he shocked the racing world by finishing 3rd behind the Hendrick Motorsports brigade of Jimmie Johnson and Jeff Gordon. But I doubt anyone (unless you’re a fan) expected him to make the Chase being in his first season with MWR Racing.
Truex made the Chase in 2007 as well, but that was with defunct Dale Earnhardt Inc. He finished a disappointing 11th in the standings.
Now, both are the underdogs in this 12-man field. In their quest to prove otherwise, which driver has the best shot of starting off the Chase right?
Last week, Bowyer held off a hard-charging Gordon with fuel strategy for his second win of the year. He comes into Chicagoland Speedway with plenty of momentum.
Truex has been one of the more consistent drivers on the circuit. A couple of weeks ago, he had a race-winning car at Atlanta Motor Speedway, but his lead was erased with a late caution.
Truex has led in the last four races, which helps fantasy owners if he’s in their lineup.
If I wrote this post a week ago, I would have chosen Bowyer, as he has more success at short tracks than Truex. However, this week I would insert Truex in your starting five.
His record at Chicagoland is less than stellar, as he has posted just one top-ten in six starts, but let’s make no mistake about it, MWR has won at Chicagoland in the past, that being with David Reutimann in July 2010.
Truex is the perfect dark-horse in waiting. In fact, after Richmond, I made an early prediction that he would win Chicagoland, and I’m sticking to my conviction.
He showed speed early this weekend by jumping to the top of the charts in the first practice session.
He qualified a disappointing 18th, but this should justify choosing him more than before.
If you’re somebody who plays fantasy NASCAR on NASCAR.com, then you know the further a driver starts, the more points one picks up—and that’s assuming the driver can pass the cars ahead.
So for example, Kevin Harvick is starting 35th Sunday. If Harvick wins from the 35th position, he’s guaranteed to accumulate the most points of any driver that week. This could apply if he finishes in the top five too. Long story short: the further a driver starts back, and the more positions he gains from that spot, the more ecstatic fantasy owners will be.
Bowyer is starting eighth, and he should run well, also. For now, it’s time for Truex to break through as Bowyer has done so twice already. Look out for the No. 56 Napa Auto Parts Toyota come race day.