Indianapolis Could Clarify ‘Wild Card’ Picture – Or Not
This week could bring enhanced clarity to the Chase Wild Card picture. Or make it even more opaque.
Two “A” list competitors currently battling for one of the two spots, Jeff Gordon and Tony Stewart, are Brickyard masters. Gordon, a four-time winner of the 400-mile event, stands 12th in NASCAR Sprint Cup standings and – without a 2013 victory – currently is outside Wild Card consideration.
Two-time Indianapolis winner Stewart, 13th, is the provisional holder of one Wild Card. Martin Truex Jr., 11th, possesses the other “pass.” Each has a single victory this season – Stewart at Dover and Truex at Sonoma.
Others, like 14th-ranked Kurt Busch, view a Wild Card as Plan B. Just seven points is the difference between Kasey Kahne (10th) and Busch. The Speedway hasn’t been kind to Busch, who has finished outside the top 20 in four of the past five seasons. His No. 78 Furniture Row Racing Chevrolet, which has been competitive in each of the season’s 19 races, finished third in 2011 with Regan Smith behind the wheel.
Only one other competitor ranked 11th through 20th – Jamie McMurray – has a victory at Indianapolis. The 2010 winner, just 16 points out of the top 10, has been on the threshold of Victory Lane during the past month with a second-place finish at Kentucky Speedway boosting the Joplin, Mo., veteran from 21st to 15th in the standings. McMurray could become just the fifth multiple NASCAR Sprint Cup winner at the Brickyard.