No owner whose driver failed to reach the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup™ has ever qualified for postseason riches.
The 2013 season could prove to be the exception to the rule – and in a most unexpected manner.
Heading into Bristol’s IRWIN Tools Night race, it’s business as usual. Kasey Kahne and the No. 5 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet team and Martin Truex Jr. and the No. 56 Michael Waltrip Racing Toyota team hold the provisional Wild Cards.
Both could make the Chase as top-10 finishers in the regular season. Kahne and Truex are four and 10 points, respectively, behind 10th-place Greg Biffle.
Should they advance, the door would open for two teams which have undergone massive changes in the past few days. The No. 14 Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet stands third in owner Wild Card standings having scored the same number of points – 653 – as the No. 56 team.
Three-time champion Tony Stewart is finished for the season as he recuperates from a broken leg suffered earlier this month in an Iowa sprint car accident. His replacement for 12 of the remaining 13 races is Mark Martin who, teamed with Michael Waltrip and Brian Vickers, has given the No. 55 MWR Toyota a shot at a Chase owner Wild Card.
The No. 55 is sixth in owner Wild Card standings on the strength of now-regular driver Vickers’ victory at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.
The irony is that Martin will battle to keep his new team ahead of his old organization, as well as the No. 22 Penske Racing Ford of Joey Logano and No. 39 Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet of Ryan Newman.
It’s just another reason why the Race for the Chase truly won’t be over until the checkered flag falls on Sept. 7 in Richmond.