With 10 races to go before the Chase cutoff race at Richmond, it’s time to start thinking about the race to the Chase. Who will make the Chase? Who won’t?
Right now, we can’t answer those questions. But there are 5 drivers many people feel are Chase material that I believe won’t even be in contention for a Chase spot come Richmond:
Kasey Kahne: Kahne is coming off a season-best run at Michigan and showed that he has the power to seriously contend for wins. But there are two things working against him: Kahne sits 21st in the standings, 205 points out of 12th, and he is notoriously inconsistent. Kahne will contend for wins, but not for a Chase spot…this year.
Juan Pablo Montoya: Montoya has the speed to contend for the title, but like Kahne, lacks the consistency to make a serious run at a Chase spot. At 20th in the standings, 189 points out of 12th, Montoya would have to have a near-perfect stretch to make the Chase, and he’s been anything but perfect this season.
Jamie McMurray: In my Hot or Not article a few weeks ago, I called J-Mac a “potential championship contender”. At the time, I meant it because he was running consistently and showed me that he could put together solid races. His last few outings, however, have been mediocre at best. And at 18th in the standings, 154 points out of 12th, mediocre isn’t good enough.
Martin Truex Jr: The recurring theme here is inconsistency, and Truex is no exception. He’s shown that he can compete for wins, but when he’s off, he’s way off. His team’s intermediate program has not been very solid as of late either, and at 16th in the standings, 97 points out of 12th, his team will have to pick it up quite a bit in that department to give their driver a shot.
Mark Martin: Right now, Martin is 12th in standings, 43 points to the good. But what you have to remember is that Mark has fallen into a couple of great finishes, and that right now he is Hendrick’s dreaded “4th car”. That, combined with the fact that he’s racing his teammate, Dale Earnhardt Jr. for a Chase spot, leads me to believe that the support will not be there for Martin. By the time Richmond rolls around, I don’t think Martin will be so much as a thought.