Jeff Gordon’s record-setting fifth victory at Indianapolis Motor Speedway clinched him a spot in the 2014 Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup (see above), assuming he starts the remaining six races in the regular season.
Now what? Now, he goes full bore, with one goal in mind: More “Winner” decals, and the three bonus points that go with each once the Chase starts. Each Chase participant will have their points reset to 2,000, with three bonus points tacked on for each win during the 26-race regular season.
Arguably, those bonus points are more important than ever, especially in the first round – the Challenger Round. The bonus points are applied only to that round, rather than across the entire Chase, as in past years. So, each point is three times as important over those first three races. And entering NASCAR’s playoffs with a bevy of bonus points would greatly enhance a driver’s ability to advance to the Contenders Round.
As the series heads to flat Pocono, coming off flat Indianapolis, there’s a notion that those who excel at one will likewise excel at the other. That’s true, sort of.
Pocono has followed Indianapolis on the series schedule in every season since 2007. Since then, the average finish of the Brickyard winner at the following race at Pocono is 10.3. The best finish at Pocono by the Brickyard winners was third by Jimmie Johnson in 2008. Ryan Newman followed last year’s Brickyard victory with a fourth-place run at Pocono. (Jamie McMurray’s Pocono finish of 22nd was the lowest of the reigning Brickyard winners.)
Gordon owns the stats to suggest a strong follow up to his Brickyard victory. His six Pocono wins are most all-time, and he’s finished in the top 10 in three of the last four races (including a win in 2012).