We begin with Monaco, tune into Indianapolis for the matinee, then spend the evening in Charlotte in our 600-mile feature. While we go in concerned about cars running into a house or into a harbor overseas, or find the wall and flipping down the track in Indiana, our biggest concern for the folks with fenders is that they might not be able to pass the leader in North Carolina.
As we discovered last week in the All-Star contest, if you run up front your only concern is that your car turns sour or adjustments just made the competition better. If neither happens, the leader leads until somebody has to hit pit road. Not terribly exciting in a visual sort of way, yet we shall watch to see if Clint Bowyer can hold on to that final Chase berth, if a past winner can win again, or if someone buried in points might be able to make the leap with a checkered flag performance.
Of course, Kyle Busch returns from his Daytona injury with zero points, 179 behind the 30th placed Tony Stewart. Well, that is nothing five or six straight wins wouldn’t cure. Hey, I did not say it would be easy.
Our hot 20 heading to Charlotte…
1. Jimmie Johnson – 3 WINS (389 Points)
Modifying the side skirt…okay on Fashion TV, not so good in NASCAR. Yet, forgivable.
2. Kevin Harvick – 2 WINS (437 Points)
Back in a crushing slump after a runner-up finish in the All-Star event. Yes, that is sarcasm.
3. Joey Logano – 1 WIN (375 Points)
Some dream of the double while Joey is content to focus on winning at night.
4. Dale Earnhardt, Jr. – 1 WIN (360 Points)
How to avoid post-race altercations? Have a NFL linebacker riding shotgun every race.
5. Brad Keselowski – 1 WIN (343 Points)
Noticed Hamlin’s sad eyes, so donated the All-Star race to him. What a nice guy!
6. Matt Kenseth – 1 WIN (331 Points)
A very funny man, but just in a dry sort of way.
7. Kurt Busch – 1 WIN (292 Points)
A personal life for Kurt equal to his success behind the wheel would bring me a measure of joy.
8. Denny Hamlin – 1 WIN (284 Points)
Feeling like a million bucks.
9. Martin Truex, Jr. – 391 POINTS
All-Star race? We don’t need no stinkin’ All-Star race!
10. Jamie McMurray – 328 POINTS
Boasts the prettiest mechanic in NASCAR…12 year veteran Ashley Parlett.
11. Jeff Gordon – 317 POINTS
Driving the Indianapolis 500….pace car.
12. Kasey Kahne – 313 POINTS
Beat young Erik Jones in an illegal truck last week…but not a terribly illegal truck.
13. Aric Almirola – 312 POINTS
Only driver in a Chase position with not a single Top Ten to his credit.
14. Paul Menard – 306 POINTS
Comparing Clinton Foundation cash to his dad’s support of Scott Walker? Not even close.
15. Ryan Newman – 305 POINTS
I heard Ryan Newman was very pretty. That is how I discovered the actress of the same name.
16. Clint Bowyer – 272 POINTS
Inside the top 16…but not very comfortably.
17. Danica Patrick – 270 POINTS
Bowyer takes over the final Chase place. Obviously, the man is no gentleman.
18. Carl Edwards – 265 POINTS
Amongst JGR drivers, he at least has more points than Kyle. Really.
19. A.J. Allmendinger – 259 POINTS
Would love a double, but it won’t happen this year.
20. Casey Mears – 242 POINTS
Is this enough to keep Germain Racing interested for 2016?
20. Greg Biffle – 242 POINTS
Can a front row start last week transfer into good tidings when it counts this week?