Win at MIS would be a boost to many driversWritten by Chris Schmidbauer | | email@example.com
With the official start to the Sprint Cup Chase for the Cup a little more than a month away, drivers who are at the top of the standings are still jockeying for position, hoping to be in the top 10 to qualify for the Chase.
Headed into the race at Watkins Glenn, the top 12 drivers in the points standings are all within 428 points of first place. While the deficit might seem like a large one to overcome, it really isn’t when one takes into account how points are awarded to drivers.
The driver who finishes first receives 185 points, but considering that second place receives 170 points, it makes it difficult to pull away from the pack.
Any driver would tell you the key is not whether or not you win the race, but rather running a consistent season week in and week out. But with the deadline to qualify for the Chase for the Cup looming, the CARFAX 400 at Michigan International Speedway (MIS) becomes even more important as several drivers battle it out for the final spot.
Several drivers could use the point bump provided by a win at MIS on Aug. 15 as the time slowly ticks toward the Chase cutoff. Here are some of those drivers.
Greg Biffle: Biffle ended a 65-race winless streak Aug. 1 after he won the Sunoco Red Cross Pennsylvania 500 at Pocono Raceway. Biffle’s win was the first since 2008 and, despite his absence from the winner’s circle, the driver of the No. 16 Ford has somehow managed to stay within striking distance of 10th place in the Sprint Cup standings. Could the win at Pocono be the jump-start that Biffle and Rousch Racing needs to rebound from two tough seasons?
Mark Martin: The 51-year-old Martin sits in 13th place in the Cup standings, just 550 points out of first place and 136 out of 10th place. Martin riveted fans last year with his run at the Chase for the Cup, finishing second to five time winner Jimmie Johnson. A win would put the elder statesman on the circuit well within striking distance of qualifying for the Chase, and he would be the fan favorite to capture his first Sprint Cup Championship.
Carl Edwards: Edwards sits in the final qualifying spot in the Chase, and with three drivers within 200 points of him, the 30-year-old needs a victory to make sure he qualifies. The driver of No. 99 Aflac Ford Fusion has never finished higher than 11th place in the points standings, which was in 2009. A win in the CARFAX 400 might give Edwards that extra kick he needs to clinch his first chance at a run at the Sprint Cup.
Dale Earnhardt Jr.: Since his much-publicized move from DEI to Hendrick Motorsports, things have not gone smoothly for Earnhardt Jr. Only one win in two seasons with Hendrick Motorsports has some questioning his move, but a win at MIS might change all of that. Earnhardt’s last win came at Michigan in 2008 and he could use another win at the track in Brooklyn. Currently sitting in 14th place and 231 points out of the Chase, a win at the CARFAX 400 would help Earnhardt’s chances to redeem himself with a berth in the Chase for the Cup.
Chris Schmidbauer is sports editor for Toledo Free Press and Toledo Free Press Star. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org. He also can be heard every Friday at 11 a.m. on the Odd Couple Sports Show on Fox Sports Radio 1230 WCWA.