Chase Wild Card Contenders Boast Daytona Success
Daytona’s Coke Zero 400 figures to be a wild affair. And it could become wilder yet for drivers in pursuit of a Chase Wild Card. Four drivers ranked 11th through 20th – those currently eligible to claim a Wild Card entry into this fall’s NASCAR Sprint Cup postseason – have won races at Daytona International Speedway. Tony Stewart, a provisional Wild Card holder along with Kasey Kahne, is the reigning Coke Zero 400 winner with four victories overall in the track’s July race.
Stewart, who reached a top-10 ranking two races ago before sliding back into the pack, could regain an “automatic qualifier” with a victory. He is 16th in the standings but just 22 points behind 10th-place Joey Logano.
Jeff Gordon has a golden opportunity to jump both Stewart and Kahne. The four-time NASCAR Sprint Cup champion has won the Coke Zero 400 three times – most recently in 2004. Gordon stands 12th, one and two points respectively, behind Kahne and Logano.
Former Daytona 500 winner Ryan Newman ranks 18th, nine points behind Stewart-Haas Racing teammate Stewart.
Jamie McMurray is the final Daytona winner ranked among the top 20 but heads to Florida with momentum. He finished a close second to Matt Kenseth at Kentucky Speedway on Sunday and won the Coors Light Pole at Sonoma Raceway a week earlier.
McMurray has won both the Daytona 500 and Coke Zero 400. His Kentucky finish was worth two positions in the points – 21st to 19th – making McMurray Wild Card eligible. He trails Stewart by 20 points and is 42 points outside the top 10.
Talladega winner David Ragan, who won the Coke Zero 400 in 2011, is a Chase long shot. Ragan is 29th and trails 20th-place Ricky Stenhouse Jr. by 139 points.