Five NASCAR Drivers Most Likely to Win Wild Card Through Victory

1 of 6

Five NASCAR Drivers Most Likely to Win Wild Card Through Victory

k
Mitch Stringer-USA Today Sports

As the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series heads to Dover International Speedway, it marks the 13th race of the season meaning NASCAR’s regular season is nearly halfway done. When the sanctioning body introduced the Generation Six car at the beginning of the season, it was thought to have drastically increase the competition and promote under-funded teams to Victory Lane.

Although the results have not been that drastic, we have seen David Ragan and Front Row Motorsports win at Talladega Super Speedway while Kurt Busch and Front Row Motorsports have come close many times.

But for many time is running out, and the series' best are continuing their march towards the top. Jeff Gordon and Tony Stewart currently find themselves on the outside looking in. Veteran Denny HamlinJoe Gibbs Racing.

When devising this list, there was of course some stipulation. For example, I didn’t take into consideration what the standings may look like when the regular season ends at Richmond. This is simply about which drivers currently in wild-card position (championship positions 10-20) or below can find their way into victory lane over the next 14 races.

Some of these drivers may not need the wild card while others provide the spark NASCAR was looking for when they introduced the rule in 2011. Currently, one of the wild card spots belongs to Kyle Busch who has found victory lane while sitting 11th in points. The other one, or possibly both of the wild-cards, are anybody’s for the taking.

Follow Mike Guzman on Twitter @Mike486
2 of 6

No.5: Juan Pablo Montoya

k
Randy Sartin-USA Today Sports

The Columbian has had mixed results not only his entire Sprint Cup Series career but especially this year with the introduction of the generation six race car. With Montoya, the fight to garner more consistent results and get into the top 20 by Richmond may be harder than actually getting into victory lane.

But Montoya has proven to be a contender and made the chase before. Three races stick out to me as make or break for The Earnhardt-Ganassi Racing driver. Montoya has always been competitive at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, winning an Indy 500 and almost a Brickyard 400. He also could win at Sonoma or Watkins Glen, putting him in position for the wild card with two, or certainly three victories.

3 of 6

No. 4: Denny Hamlin

K
Randy Sartin-USA Today Sports

Hamlin has become one of the most intriguing stories in The Sprint Cup Series since suffering a back injury at Auto Club Speedwayand returning at Darlington Raceway.

If you recall, Hamlin nearly won his first full race back, finishing second to teammate Matt Kenseth. Joe Gibbs Racing is arguably one of the best teams in the sport, and if Hamlin can overcome the gap to 20th place in the standings, he can certainly find himself in victory lane. It could possibly even happen at his hometown Richmond track to cap off one of the greatest comebacks in NASCAR history.

4 of 6

No. 3: Tony Stewart

K
Randy Sartin-USA Today Sports

Smoke got off to a traditionally slow start, but as the season continued Stewart-Haas Racing continued to struggle. Now teammate Ryan Newman has found success, and Tony Stewart is going to need to have one of his trademark summer runs.

The Columbus, Indiana native not only runs great at The Brickyard but is the defending Pepsi 400 winner at Daytona International Speedway.

5 of 6

No.2: Kurt Busch

K
Sam Sharpe-USA Today Sports

When NASCAR implemented the Generation Six car, one of the main goals was to level the playing field. One of the teams to see that benefit has clearly been Kurt Busch and Furniture Row Racing. The single car operation out of Denver has nearly won a few races, and it would be hard to believe that they soon won't return to victory lane.

But early season inconsistency may have prevented this operation from a guaranteed berth. If this team doesn't find consistency, desperation will have to kick in. But if any driver has displayed raw speed this year, it has to be Kurt Busch. Driving with a purpose, Busch should certainly be able to wheel this car to victory lane by himself and possibly land a wild-card berth in the process.

6 of 6

No. 1: Jeff Gordon

K
Jerry Lai-USA Today Sports

It is hard to believe that we are at the midpoint of NASCAR's regular season and Jeff Gordon isn't near the top of the standings. The team has dug itself a hole but now finds itself safely inside the top 20. However, as they continue to struggle on 1.5 mile tracks there is a need for victories, and Gordon will certainly get them at one point or another.

Hendrick Motorsports as a whole is too good to have their most prominent and decorated driver not make the Chase. Whether that means shake-ups within crews or drastic setup chances, Jeff Gordon will certainly find his way to victory lane at least once. And if Gordon is not in the top ten by Richmond, he will certainly be sitting pretty for a wild card spot.

1 of 6

Five NASCAR Drivers Most Likely to Win Wild Card Through Victory

k
Mitch Stringer-USA Today Sports

As the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series heads to Dover International Speedway, it marks the 13th race of the season meaning NASCAR’s regular season is nearly halfway done. When the sanctioning body introduced the Generation Six car at the beginning of the season, it was thought to have drastically increase the competition and promote under-funded teams to Victory Lane.

Although the results have not been that drastic, we have seen David Ragan and Front Row Motorsports win at Talladega Super Speedway while Kurt Busch and Front Row Motorsports have come close many times.

But for many time is running out, and the series' best are continuing their march towards the top. Jeff Gordon and Tony Stewart currently find themselves on the outside looking in. Veteran Denny HamlinJoe Gibbs Racing.

When devising this list, there was of course some stipulation. For example, I didn’t take into consideration what the standings may look like when the regular season ends at Richmond. This is simply about which drivers currently in wild-card position (championship positions 10-20) or below can find their way into victory lane over the next 14 races.

Some of these drivers may not need the wild card while others provide the spark NASCAR was looking for when they introduced the rule in 2011. Currently, one of the wild card spots belongs to Kyle Busch who has found victory lane while sitting 11th in points. The other one, or possibly both of the wild-cards, are anybody’s for the taking.

Follow Mike Guzman on Twitter @Mike486
2 of 6

No.5: Juan Pablo Montoya

k
Randy Sartin-USA Today Sports

The Columbian has had mixed results not only his entire Sprint Cup Series career but especially this year with the introduction of the generation six race car. With Montoya, the fight to garner more consistent results and get into the top 20 by Richmond may be harder than actually getting into victory lane.

But Montoya has proven to be a contender and made the chase before. Three races stick out to me as make or break for The Earnhardt-Ganassi Racing driver. Montoya has always been competitive at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, winning an Indy 500 and almost a Brickyard 400. He also could win at Sonoma or Watkins Glen, putting him in position for the wild card with two, or certainly three victories.

3 of 6

No. 4: Denny Hamlin

K
Randy Sartin-USA Today Sports

Hamlin has become one of the most intriguing stories in The Sprint Cup Series since suffering a back injury at Auto Club Speedwayand returning at Darlington Raceway.

If you recall, Hamlin nearly won his first full race back, finishing second to teammate Matt Kenseth. Joe Gibbs Racing is arguably one of the best teams in the sport, and if Hamlin can overcome the gap to 20th place in the standings, he can certainly find himself in victory lane. It could possibly even happen at his hometown Richmond track to cap off one of the greatest comebacks in NASCAR history.

4 of 6

No. 3: Tony Stewart

K
Randy Sartin-USA Today Sports

Smoke got off to a traditionally slow start, but as the season continued Stewart-Haas Racing continued to struggle. Now teammate Ryan Newman has found success, and Tony Stewart is going to need to have one of his trademark summer runs.

The Columbus, Indiana native not only runs great at The Brickyard but is the defending Pepsi 400 winner at Daytona International Speedway.

5 of 6

No.2: Kurt Busch

K
Sam Sharpe-USA Today Sports

When NASCAR implemented the Generation Six car, one of the main goals was to level the playing field. One of the teams to see that benefit has clearly been Kurt Busch and Furniture Row Racing. The single car operation out of Denver has nearly won a few races, and it would be hard to believe that they soon won't return to victory lane.

But early season inconsistency may have prevented this operation from a guaranteed berth. If this team doesn't find consistency, desperation will have to kick in. But if any driver has displayed raw speed this year, it has to be Kurt Busch. Driving with a purpose, Busch should certainly be able to wheel this car to victory lane by himself and possibly land a wild-card berth in the process.

6 of 6

No. 1: Jeff Gordon

K
Jerry Lai-USA Today Sports

It is hard to believe that we are at the midpoint of NASCAR's regular season and Jeff Gordon isn't near the top of the standings. The team has dug itself a hole but now finds itself safely inside the top 20. However, as they continue to struggle on 1.5 mile tracks there is a need for victories, and Gordon will certainly get them at one point or another.

Hendrick Motorsports as a whole is too good to have their most prominent and decorated driver not make the Chase. Whether that means shake-ups within crews or drastic setup chances, Jeff Gordon will certainly find his way to victory lane at least once. And if Gordon is not in the top ten by Richmond, he will certainly be sitting pretty for a wild card spot.


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