Heading into Indianapolis, there was just one story of note. Sure, Matt Kenseth’s winning car at Loudon was tagged at inspection, but nothing meaningful took place. He lost 15 points and drops behind Jimmie Johnson in the standings. In short, nothing of consequence. Kevin Harvick remains upset with his pit crew, but they still have seven races before the Chase to figure that out. The only story of note involves the No. 88 and who will be behind the wheel.
That would be Jeff Gordon, who comes out of retirement to run Indianapolis and Watkins Glen while Dale Earnhardt Jr. recovers from the effects of his latest concussion. Shaky balance and some nausea are what he needs to overcome, but while that is happening Gordon will run his 798th and 799th career races. The former four-time champ has five wins at the Brickyard, with the last coming just two years ago, while the last of his four Glen victories came back in 2001.
I guess if you have to plop a bottom into the seat, this is not a bad selection. Gordon, obviously, is not among our Hot 20…but he should be the focal point of most of the fans on Sunday.
1. BRAD KESELOWSKI – 4 WINS (622 Pts)
One of only a handful of drivers averaging 30 points or more per race. That works.
2. KYLE BUSCH – 3 WINS (556 Pts)
Rowdy is to XFINITY what I am to a three-legged race involving 3-year-olds. The favorite!
3. CARL EDWARDS – 2 WINS (587 Pts)
He has had the best of times, but last week was not one of them.
4. JIMMIE JOHNSON – 2 WINS (514 Pts)
Figures his new teammate could very well make it six Brickyard wins on Sunday.
5. MATT KENSETH – 2 WINS (506 Pts)
Bad boys, bad boys, whatcha gonna do…? Not a hell of a lot that matters, it seems.
6. KEVIN HARVICK – 1 WIN (636 Pts)
It sounds as if his crew are to pit stops what I am to ballet, sprinting, basketball, hair styling…
7. KURT BUSCH – 1 WIN (602 Pts)
Wheels on the car do not go round and round when they are no longer round.
8. JOEY LOGANO – 1 WIN (571 Pts)
Going from mediocre to third turned New Hampshire into a pretty nice day…in the end.
9. MARTIN TRUEX JR. – 1 WIN (540 Pts)
You cannot stick it to the man without a stick shift to do it with.
10. DENNY HAMLIN – 1 WIN (505 Pts)
Half of his ten Indianapolis attempts resulted in Top Tens, but third has been his best finish.
11. TONY STEWART – 1 WIN (287 Pts)
All of a sudden, ole Smoke looks pretty comfortable in the standings.
12. CHASE ELLIOTT – 499 PTS
If William Clyde’s nickname was “Champ”, we could engrave the trophy and be done with it.
13. RYAN NEWMAN – 497 PTS
Newman figures Gordon still knows how to put on his underwear…or he said something like that.
14. AUSTIN DILLON – 488 PTS
That 2015 Daytona 400 crash now the cause of a lawsuit against NASCAR and the track.
15. JAMIE MCMURRAY – 474 PTS
Sixth place finish last weekend gives Dimples some breathing room going into Sunday.
16. DALE EARNHARDT JR. – 461 PTS
Staying out of the car this week and at the Glen, allowing some pretty boy his seat time.
17. TREVOR BAYNE – 447 PTS
A Top 20 finish would be very, very helpful this weekend.
18. RYAN BLANEY – 445 PTS
19. KASEY KAHNE – 439 PTS
20. KYLE LARSON – 436 PTS